NEWS
Sunday March 17 2013
Conte: 'I feel like leaving Italy'

Antonio Conte was so dismayed by the controversy in Bologna that the Juventus Coach warned “it makes me want to leave Italy. This is sport, not war.”

The tactician has been repeatedly linked with prestigious jobs abroad, including Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

Juve won 2-0 at the Dall’Ara last night and temporarily went 12 points clear at the top of the Serie A table, but Bologna manager Stefano Pioli berated him for an “exaggerated” celebration that showed “a lack of respect” towards the home team.

“I was celebrating with the Juventus fans,” insisted Conte in his Press conference. “I turned towards the Curva and the areas of the stands that I could see were full of Juventini. If I can’t even celebrate with my own supporters, then what can I do?

“With one minute to go, I am 2-0 up and putting a solid foundation on a Scudetto and am supposed to worry about how and where I celebrate? Are we kidding?

“Instead, try seeing how Juventus are welcomed in stadiums. I was truly stunned that a civilised city like Bologna greeted the team bus with sticks, rocks, spit, even people who shouted vile abuse while holding four-year-old children in their arms. What kind of an education are we giving young people?

“Seeing as there are so many cameras on the pitch and in the locker room, why not put some outside the stadium to show what happens when we arrive? Maybe that person with the child in their arms will see themselves, be ashamed and not go back to the stadium.

“This is the sort of thing people ought to be ashamed of, not rubbish like celebrating. I understand it hurts to lose, but let’s be realistic here.”

Following Conte’s appeal, the media also covered some of the chants and banners in the stands at the Dall’Ara, which included references to Heysel and the death of former President Agnelli.

“If this sort of thing happens in Bologna, which is such a lovely and civilised city, then it’s over. It is over, because I can sort of expect it in Naples with the great rivalry and the situation in the table, even if it felt like being in a war zone with tear gas...

“If I have to expect a welcome like this in Bologna, then I say that it really makes me want to leave Italy and go abroad. It must be a simpler life elsewhere.

“I cannot think of going with my family, my wife and my daughter to the stadium. We can’t go in Florence because it’s too risky, in Naples it’s too risky and now even Bologna is too risky...

“We are not at war, here. This is sport. This is a sport. In this situation, you may as well just leave. Right now my thoughts are exclusively on Juventus, but these things make you feel very bitter and disheartened. If it happens in Bologna, then we really do have to change everything. It’s easier to just go elsewhere.”

Conte also experienced the ugly side of Italian football when he was sitting out his four-month touchline ban, as he could not sit in the stands due to security concerns and had to watch games from the TV commentary boxes. 

Read Susy Campanale's blog on the Conte celebration and the concept of 'respect' in calcio.

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