AC Milan's Gennaro Gattuso banned for four European matches for 'gross unsporting conduct'
Gennaro Gattuso, the AC Milan and Italy national team midfielder who last week attempted first to throttle and later to head-butt an opposing coach, on Monday was banned for four European games for "gross unsporting conduct."
Long known for his fiery and often over-the-top behavior, Gattuso, a World Cup winner in 2006, last Tuesday scaled new heights even by his own standards.
Playing in a Champions League round-of-16 match against Tottenham Hotspur at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan, Gattuso, 33, became increasingly fraught as the game wore on. At one point, he grabbed Spurs assistant and former Scotland international Joe Jordan by the throat as the two went toe to toe on the sideline.
After the final whistle, in a game that Spurs won, 1-0, and in which Gattuso received a yellow card that would have caused him to miss the March 9 second leg in London, the midfielder again confronted the 59-year-old Jordan, this time aiming a head-butt at his face before being dragged away.
On Monday, the disciplinary committee of UEFA, European soccer's governing body, banned Gattuso for the next four European matches for which he is eligible. If AC Milan continues to advance in the Champions League, Gattuso would not be available to the Italian team until the May 28 final.
After last week's meltdown, Gattuso apologized for his behavior, but at the same time his agent claimed that Jordan had provoked the player by calling him a "blanking Italian blankety-blank" and said Gattuso was merely standing up for his country and his countrymen.
The agent, Claudio Pasqualin, told a Naples radio station that Jordan "after having continuously heckled him, insulted him with a truly low phrase [using] . . . the most disgusting and unjustifiable of insults."
Tottenham Hotspur denied any wrongdoing by Jordan, who once played for AC Milan, and Jordan himself went to great lengths to distance himself from the agent's claim, calling it "pathetic."
"It is completely and utterly untrue, and something so wildly inaccurate doesn't do him much credit," Jordan said. "He clearly doesn't realize that I consider playing for Milan the proudest time of my career, that my daughter lives and works in Italy and that I love the country and the people. It's just a nonsense, it really is."
The four-game suspension imposed by UEFA comes on top of the one-game Gattuso already was scheduled to miss because of accumulated yellow cards. The ban does not apply to Italian league or cup games, only to European competition. On Monday, AC Milan said it would not appeal the ruling.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, right, argues with Tottenham's assistant coach Joe Jordan, left, and Tottenham Coach Harry Redknapp, center, during their Champions League soccer match on Feb. 15 in Milan. Credit: Oliver Morin / AFP.