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Soccer: Blasphemy cards to be used 'with care'

CONI chief responds to criticism of campaign

17 March, 18:07
Soccer: Blasphemy cards to be used 'with care' (ANSA) - Rome, March 17 - Italian soccer's new crackdown on blasphemous comments by players and coaches should be applied "with common sense," the head of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said Wednesday.

Responding to protests from clubs, CONI President Gianni Petrucci recalled that blasphemy is a crime under Italian law and he was glad to have suggested the campaign to Italian Soccer Federation chief Giancarlo Abete.

Petrucci, whose organisation oversees all Italian sport, said the campaign to give offending players red cards would go ahead but "FIGC will apply it with common sense".

"Blasphemy is not at all a secondary thing," he insisted, "but we have to handle it with care".

The drive to stamp out irreligious oaths has claimed international headlines and spurred protests from coaches including Juventus's Alberto Zaccheroni who said "championships could be altered by this overzealous campaign".

Also contentious is the use of TV replays and lip readers to determine if an oath was actually uttered.

A player was recently acquitted after it was established that he said 'Porco Diaz', an alleged northern Italian dialect expression, instead of a well-known expletive against God.

A Serie A coach, one Serie A player and four Serie B players have received one-match blasphemy bans since the initiative kicked off at the start of the month.

In an amateur match, three red cards were handed out for sacrilegious language, leaving one team with ten men and the other with nine.

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