Udinese's Rolando Mandragora suspended for 'blasphemous remarks'

Rolando Mandragora
Rolando Mandragora made his one appearance for Juventus in April 2017

It is not unheard of for players to be suspended for head-butting, drop-kicking fans, or even biting - if you're a certain Luis Suarez...

But being suspended for "blasphemous remarks" might just be a first.

Former Juventus midfielder Rolando Mandragora has been suspended for one Serie A game after he was caught on television cameras shouting "Porca Madonna, Vaffanculo, Dio Cane", an insult to the Virgin Mary, while also referring to God as a dog.

The outburst from the Italy international came after Sampdoria goalkeeper Emil Eudero saved his shot in a game which Mandragora's side, Udinese, won 1-0.

The remarks initially went unnoticed by officials during the match, but the Lega Serie A - the competition's governing body - later took the incident to review and suspended the 21-year-old.

"After acquiring and examining the relevant television images, the player, while cursing without referring to anybody around him, was nevertheless clearly seen by the television images to make blasphemous remarks, visibly identifiable from reading his lips without any margin for reasonable doubt," a disciplinary report from the Lega Serie A said.

Mandragora, who won the Serie A and Italian Cup with Juventus in 2017, has spent last season on loan to Crotone before signing for Udinese last month. He has one cap for Italy.

"Mandragora is a good person, the most he deserved was a warning," said Udinese coach Daniele Prade.

There is a strict ban on taking God's name in vain in Italy, and since 2010, the country's football association has disciplined players and coaches heard doing so.

Former Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon has been forced to apologise in the past for uttering the word "Dio" (God). Although, he did once claim that he had in fact said "Zio" - which means uncle.

"I apologise. If one day I will have the good fortune to meet God, he will be the one to decide whether to forgive me," Buffon said at the time.

Two years ago, Italy rugby captain Sergio Parisse was forced to apologise after being filmed uttering a blasphemous phrase before a Six Nations game against France.

And, according to the Italian FA's rules, players who wear t-shirts with personal messages to their family, or which make a reference to their religious beliefs, will also be punished.

It's not unusual for European countries have blasphemy laws on the statute book, but it is rare that they are invoked.

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