Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blasphemy in Italy Soccer: Blasphemy cards to be used 'with care'

(ANSA) - Rome, March 17 - Italian soccer's new crackdown on blasphemous comments by players and coaches should be applied "with common sense," the head of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said Wednesday.

Responding to protests from clubs, CONI President Gianni Petrucci recalled that blasphemy is a crime under Italian law and he was glad to have suggested the campaign to Italian Soccer Federation chief Giancarlo Abete.

Petrucci, whose organisation oversees all Italian sport, said the campaign to give offending players red cards would go ahead but "FIGC will apply it with common sense".

"Blasphemy is not at all a secondary thing," he insisted, "but we have to handle it with care".

The drive to stamp out irreligious oaths has claimed international headlines and spurred protests from coaches including Juventus's Alberto Zaccheroni who said "championships could be altered by this overzealous campaign".

In an amateur match, three red cards were handed out for sacrilegious language, leaving one team with ten men and the other with nine.

I'm impressed. When I first glanced at the headline on the main English page, I thought it would be an article about a Muslim majority country in the Developing World, but Italy! That surprised me. Yeah, I know Italy is fighting the crucifix ruling from the EU, but a crucifix in a classroom seems pretty tame compared to referees handing out red cards for blasphemy. True, it's not the state mandating this...

But if it's a law and the sport wants to regulate itself and its players, I'm all for it.

I am interested in what constitutes blasphemy under Italian law and if it is specific to the Judeo-Christian God.

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