Having only just completed - in December - his four-month Juventus touchline ban for his alleged failure to report an attempt at match-fixing while in charge of Siena two seasons ago, the head coach Antonio Conte is banned again.
He will sit in the stand at Chievo this weekend, after his rant at the referee at the end of his side's 1-1 draw with Genoa earned a two-match ban. The defenders Leonardi Bonucci (two games) and Giorgio Chiellini (one) are also suspended for a loss of self-control.
The referee, Marco Guida, had overruled his assistant in not awarding Juve a late penalty. Conte explained his anger because, he said, the official gave him an unconvincing explanation for not giving the spot-kick. According to Guida's report, the Juve coach then insulted him repeatedly.
Beppe Marotta, Juve's general manager, joined in the protests, with a conspiracy theory. Guida is from the Naples area, he pointed out, suggesting a bias in favour of Napoli, currently second in the table. He wondered out loud if Neapolitan officials should be assigned Juventus matches.
This is a symptom of Juve's siege mentality, part of their motivational make-up, nourished by the troubled period the club went through after the summer of 2006, when they were punitively relegated.
Juve should remember what they were relegated for: because their senior directors were manipulating the assignment of referees. Juventus should be very careful indeed about telling anybody who should referee where.
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