Italy midfielder Mandragora banned for blasphemy

Udinese's Italian midfielder Rolando Mandragora slapped with one-match ban for blasphemy

Italian international Rolando Mandragora has fallen victim to the country's strict ban on taking God's name in vain on the pitch, being suspended for one Serie A game for "blasphemous remarks" uttered during his team Udinese's 1-0 win over Sampdoria at the weekend.

The 21-year-old midfielder was caught on television shouting "Porca Madonna, Vaffanculo, Dio Cane", an insult to the Virgin Mary, while also referring to God as a dog, in exasperation after a save by Sampdoria goalkeeper Emil Audero.

Mandragora's swearing went unnoticed by officials during the match, leading to a review by the Lega Serie A.

"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.

As a result the former Juventus midfielder will miss next Sunday's Serie A game against Fiorentina, the Lega Serie A confirmed.

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

Mandragora -- who won the Serie A and Italian Cup with Juventus in 2017 -- spent last season on loan to Crotone before signing for Udinese last month.

The player from Naples has one cap for Italy after earning his first call-up under new national coach Roberto Mancini during a friendly loss to France last June.

The Italian FA have since 2010 taken disciplinary action against players and coaches heard disrespecting God or the sacred.

But Mandragora's ban was greeted with disbelief on social media where it was blasted as "ridiculous" and "outdated".

"They had to wait for (Gianluigi) Buffon's exit otherwise he wouldn't have played half of the games," commented one Twitter user.

"To see bans for blasphemies in 2018 is really the stuff of 1498," added another. "It is a lack of respect, but disqualifying with TV is ridiculous."

Former Italy and former Juventus captain Buffon has in the past been forced to apologise for uttering the word "Dio" (God), although he once claimed he had said "Zio" (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," said Buffon, who moved to Paris Saint-Germain this season.

AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma escaped punishment in the past because of "lack of absolute certainty" over what he had said.

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

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

Many European countries have blasphemy laws on the statute book but they are hardly ever invoked.