Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino
has been suspended for two games by the Italian league for "serious
unsporting conduct" after he scored
the opening goal of Sunday's 3-1 Serie A win at Palermo with his forearm.
Gilardino, who scored Italy's goal against the United States in the 2006 World Cup finals when the teams tied 1-1 in Kaiserslautern, had the front of his body concealed from the referee when he
slid in to convert a cross that put his side 1-0 up in the 20th minute. Palermo's goalkeeper Marco Amelia
immediately signaled that Gilardino had played
the ball with his arm, but the goal stood. Slow motion replays quickly confirmed that Amelia was correct.
Palermo was understandably furious that the goal counted. Palermo President
told reporters before the announcement that Gilardino deserved a five-game ban, but the club was reportedly satisfied with the two-game
Gilardino's agent Giovanni Bia
begged to differ, claiming that the striker "made a gesture, whether voluntary or
involuntary, that was due to an instinctive action." There certainly wasn't much involuntary about the player's celebration, which only added to Palermo's fury, and which Zamparini
had labeled "incredible."
Fiorentina plans to appeal against the ban, but if it's upheld then Gilardino will miss his team's home game with Inter Milan Wednesday
and Sunday's visit to Siena.
Although the use of video evidence to issue retrospective punishments for violent fouls or the rescinding of red and yellow cards is becoming
increasingly common, using replays for handball incidents is almost unprecedented. How fortunate for Diego Maradona
that no such initiative was taken by FIFA
at the 1986 World Cup.
One final note. On Monday we noted that out of Serie A's measly 19 goals in 10 weekend games, five had been penalty kicks and one an own goal. To that we
must now belatedly add: and one was scored with the arm. Whether it was voluntary or involuntary, we will leave to the interpretation of the individual viewer.