Atalanta boss Gasperini handed ban for blasphemy

Gian Piero Gasperini AtalantaGetty Images

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini will be forced to watch his side’s forthcoming Serie A clash against AC Milan on Sunday from the stands, having been found guilty of blasphemy.

The former Inter boss has endured a difficult start to the season with Atalanta, who find themselves 14th in Serie A after four matches. Additionally, they were knocked out of the Europa League in surprising circumstances by Copenhagen, going down 4-3 on penalties after two scoreless matches.

Monday’s 2-0 loss to SPAL, however, dropped the coach in hot water as he was caught mouthing the blasphemous phrase “God is a pig” by television cameras in the aftermath of the hosts’ opening goal.

The Italian League has announced that as a consequence of his actions, he will be banned for one match.

“Considering that Mr. Gian Piero Gasperini, coach of Atalanta, after the scoring of a goal by the opposition team, turning in an agitated manner towards his bench, was, however, clearly caught on camera uttering a blasphemous expression, identifiable from lip-reading without any reasonable doubt, and that such behaviour must be sanctioned ... with a one-match disqualification (from the touchline),” a statement reads

Gasperini, however, is not the first high-profile figure in the Italian league to fall foul of this law this season.

Udinese midfielder Rolando Mandragora was caught on television cameras shouting “Porca Madonna - Dio Cane”, which translates in English to an insult to the Virgin Mary, while also referring to God as a “dog”.

In Italy, blaspheming is regarded as one of the worst types of swearing, and the Italian FA subsequently treat all such cases with a hard-line policy.

The rules were introduced in 2010, with then-Chievo coach Domenico Di Carlo the first to be punished. Parma player Davide Lanzafame was also punished on the first weekend of the rule change.

Gasperini is one of Serie A’s most experienced coaches, having taken charge of the likes of Genoa, Inter and Palermo after graduating from a long stint overseeing Juventus’ youth teams.

He has been in charge of Atalanta since 2016 and has led them into Europe in each of the last two seasons, even qualifying for the Europa League knockout phase last term, in which they were edged out 4-3 by Borussia Dortmund in the round of 32.