Graziano Pelle: Italy release striker for 'disrespect'

Graziano Pelle
Graziano Pelle has nine goals in 19 caps for Italy

Italy striker Graziano Pelle has been released from their World Cup qualifying squad to play Macedonia on Sunday for refusing to shake the coach's hand.

The ex-Southampton forward, who now plays in China, was substituted by Giampiero Ventura in the 1-1 draw against Spain on Thursday.

But he walked past Ventura and ignored his outstretched hand as he made his way off the pitch for Ciro Immobile.

Italy were 1-0 down at the time.

"Being part of the national team begins with showing respect for the staff, team-mates and fans," read an Italian Football Federation statement.external-link

"The head coach together with the FIGC has decided to exclude Graziano Pelle due to his disrespectful behaviour.

"Players must share the values and assume an attitude which is in keeping with the Azzurra shirt."

The 31-year-old frontman, who joined Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng in the summer, left the field with Italy trailing following Vitolo's opener, before the hosts equalised through Daniele de Rossi's penalty.

Ventura had said after the game: "I don't think Pelle was angry because of the sub, but maybe because of his performance. I have seen something like that a lot in my career. It belongs in football, but when you wear the Italy shirt, you need to be more careful."

Giampiero Ventura
Italy boss Ventura, 68, replaced Antonio Conte after Euro 2016

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