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Tuesday March 22 2011
The Prandelli Code

Italy has its first victims of the code of ethics, but Susy Campanale isn't entirely clear on the rules

The first players have fallen foul of Cesare Prandelli's ‘code of ethics' and, as promised, were dropped from the Italy squad. Daniele De Rossi was guilty of elbowing Darijo Srna of Shakhtar Donetsk while on duty for Roma, while Mario Balotelli attempted a season record for the highest tackle in Manchester City-Dynamo Kiev. They miss out on a Euro 2012 qualifier against Slovenia, but will this make any difference to their behaviour?

In principle, the code of ethics is a wonderful idea and one that clubs should also take into account. Too many times we have seen players repeat the same mistakes over and over again – usually De Rossi and Balotelli, come to think of it – which penalise their own careers and those of their teammates. Had Gennaro Gattuso not wisely retired from the Azzurri, he'd be on the naughty step too following his set-to with Tottenham assistant manager Joe Jordan.

I wonder how easy this will be to implement, though. It's fine when facing one qualifier and a friendly game, but what if a player is sent off for violent conduct right before a major tournament? Does he get a suspended sentence, or does principle stand above the needs of the squad? Or, like the farce of John Terry's England captaincy, is the ban only worth the amount of time it takes for the newspapers to lay off the pressure?

There are no set rules, so ultimately Prandelli will make his decisions on a case-by-case basis. That is bound to cause controversy down the line. I think we can agree De Rossi especially deserved to be frozen out, as there was no question his actions were malicious. At least with SuperMario, one can plead recklessness rather than intent to harm. He is also young, while De Rossi ought to know better, especially with his nickname at Roma of ‘future captain.' Not that Francesco Totti was immune to such behaviour, either, as Christian Poulsen can attest...

At least we can be grateful for one thing: Prandelli needs to implement the code of ethics less than most international managers. Historically Italian football is still regarded as a sport for athletes, so no Capello-style need to ban crisps and pray the newspapers don't dig up another sex/violence/sex and violence scandal. Thankfully, the Azzurri tend to be quite dull in their private lives. Now if we can only get them to stop thumping people on the pitch...

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