Italian soccer player suspended for making blasphemous remarks (to himself)

As the BBC Sports news reported yesterday (click on screenshot), Italian soccer player Rolando Mandragora was suspended for one game for making “blasphemous remarks.” The thing is, nobody heard them: they were spoken to himself, and authorities deciphered what he said by reading his lips on videos. The crime? Mandragora insulted both God and the Virgin Mary.

An excerpt:

Former Juventus midfielder Rolando Mandragora has been suspended for one Serie A game after he was caught on television cameras shouting “Porca Madonna, Vaffanculo, Dio Cane”, an insult to the Virgin Mary, while also referring to God as a dog.

The outburst from the Italy international came after Sampdoria goalkeeper Emil Eudero saved his shot in a game which Mandragora’s side, Udinese, won 1-0.

The remarks initially went unnoticed by officials during the match, but the Lega Serie A – the competition’s governing body – later took the incident to review and suspended the 21-year-old.

“After acquiring and examining the relevant television images, the player, while cursing without referring to anybody around him, was nevertheless clearly seen by the television images to make blasphemous remarks, visibly identifiable from reading his lips without any margin for reasonable doubt,” a disciplinary report from the Lega Serie A said.

Translation (not given by the BBC): “Madonna is a pig, fuck off, God is a dog.”  Clearly Mandragora was pissed off at the save and cursed, mostly to himself. But that’s against the law! Wikipedia describes the law thusly:

In Italy, under the article 724 of the Penal Code, blasphemy in public is considered as an “administrative offense” and punished with a fine ranging from 51 to 309 €. First introduced in 1930 under Mussolini, blasphemy was decriminalized as per art.57, d.lgs. n.507 of 30 December 1999. As per Corte Costituzionalesentence n.440 of 18 October 1995, the law punishes only blasphemy against the “Deity”.  Article 404 of the Penal Code also punishes public offenses to religion, and has been invoked against artists using religious imagery in satirical art.

As the BBC adds:

There is a strict ban on taking God’s name in vain in Italy, and since 2010, the country’s football association has disciplined players and coaches heard doing so.

Former Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon has been forced to apologise in the past for uttering the word “Dio” (God). Although, he did once claim that he had in fact said “Zio” – which means uncle.

I’m guessing that if there’s a ban on taking God’s name in vain in Italy, or even saying “Dio”, then at least 95% of Italians have been guilty of blasphemy.

As the BBC notes, some European countries have laws against blasphemy, but they’re not often enforced. Wikipedia includes among those countries Ireland, Austria, Finland, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. It’s time to take these ridiculous laws off the books.

 

h/t: Paul

63 Comments

  1. Claudia Baker
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Jeez, if I lived in Italy, I would probably be in jail by now.

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Well, now you’ve done it. With that first word, you can’t even show up at the border.

      • yazikus
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        You jest (I think), but we weren’t allowed to say ‘gosh’ or ‘jeez’ growing up for that very reason. No ‘shoot’ either.

        • mikeyc
          Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Well, I’ll be darned.

          • yazikus
            Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

            Lol, forgot about that. No ‘darn’ either. At the height of the ridiculousness, my mother banned ‘what’ (she called it the ‘w-word’). She wanted immediate obedience, and if we had a question we could say ‘pardon me’.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        mikeyc – Italy’s Schengen zone. So Claudia could cross the border without anybody ever checking.

        (OK, I doubtless read too much into your comment…

        I agree that blasphemy should be encouraged whenever possible 😉

        cr

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      You’re not foolin’ anyone with that minced oath “Jeez,” either, Claudia. 🙂

      • mikeyc
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        Ha! Finally Ninja’d YOU! Jeez, that took me a long time.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 30, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, guess maybe I’ve lost half a step on hitting the send button, Mikey. 🙂

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            I hope I don’t get in trouble for something similar. Jesus cocking Christ, what a shambles.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        I thought I’d tone it down a bit, in case the Italians were watching. But, can’t fool you Ken! 🙂

    • darrelle
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      I’d be there with you.

  2. Dave137
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure there’s an entire city-state inside Italy’s very capital that treats children rather horrifically.

    Maybe Italian authorities should focus on that small problem first, before acting totalitarian toward everyone else.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, they should have a look at The Pope.

    • Posted August 31, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Same guy is (partially) to blame for both, too.

  3. Julian C
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Whoever engaged in the lip reading was actively looking to be offended (… and knew where to look)

    • Carly
      Posted August 31, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Indeed. Poor guy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Had he been in his home and done that, nobody would have known and he wouldn’t be suspended.

  4. philfinn7
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I am in Italy at present. Maybe I’ll go down to the restaurant now and order Dio Cane for dinner

  5. Curt Nelson
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    He should defend himself by making up something G-rated that would produce the same mouth action, sort of like they do on bad lip reading.

    Then he should express disgust that his innocent remarks were interpreted in such a foul manner and suggest that those who did so be suspended. But in doing so he shouldn’t refer to “mouth action.”

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t the whole field of lip-reading comically imprecise anyway? That’s the premise of those Bad Lip-Reading YouTube channels. The guy could probably sue and win.

      And one of my favourite albums growing up was called ‘Elephant Shoe’ by the band Arab Strap…Apparently ‘elephant shoe’ and ‘I love you’ are indistinguishable to lip-readers.

      • DavidB
        Posted August 31, 2018 at 6:32 am | Permalink

        It is, and one of my favourite Morse episodes involves such a misunderstanding – the Silent World of Nicholas Quinn.

    • eric
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      He should defend himself by making up something G-rated that would produce the same mouth action, sort of like they do on bad lip reading.

      Or go the Bowser & Blue route and make up a religiously themed version of Polka Dot Undies. 🙂

  6. drew
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Blasphemy?

    Madonna…Dio…The comments in question were clearly about musicians.

    • XCellKen
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Well, Dio did sing a song called Holy Diver

  7. Mark R.
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I have to admit, that’s a pretty good curse. I’ve used “Jesus Fuck” as a good hard-hitting curse. I think “Madonna is a pig, fuck off, God is a dog” has it beat though. But a little too wordy. How about “Pig Madonna fuck off God dog.” I like to blaspheme.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Me too Mark. Me too.

      I think it’s me hitting back at my very catholic upbringing. All those repressed blasphemes just come bubbling up. Oh, it’s so lovely to be a non-believer.

    • XCellKen
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      God spelled backwards is dog. Coincidence ?

  8. Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Nobody expects the Italian Inquisition.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Their chief weapon is video replay

  9. busterggi
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    God is a title, not a name.

    Madonna is a singer who’s overrated.

    Really Italy, grow up – don’t turn into Trumpland.

    • Pierluigi Ballabeni
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Italy anticipated Trump by twenty years when they elected Berlusconi a businessman owning the largest private TV stations of the country.

      • eric
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        Now look what you’ve made me do. Think of Trump and Bunga Bunga being put together.

  10. Stephen Mynett
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Nothing surprises me where religion is involved but it certainly makes me angry.

    In cases like this i am often tempted to get as many people as I can to email the authority involved, it would not make them change but would at least cause them the effort of having to delete a load of emails. Plus if they are worded the right way it can seem like a genuine inquiry for a couple of paragraphs before making the point about the stupidity of blasphemy laws. That way they will have wasted a minute or so reading.

  11. Neil Wolfe
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    God is such a snowflake

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      No kidding. What a wuss.

  12. Filippo
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I gather that there must be a sufficient market for lip readers of Italian.

  13. Pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Porco dio, porca madonna, dio cane, are old standard swearwords in Italian. They are surely considered vulgar but when I was a child in the Italian speaking region of Switzerland you could hear them pretty often. The same in Italy. To me swearing in Italians means associating more or less dirty animals or more or less standard sexual behaviours to key persons of the Christian mythology.

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. I can testify by growing up in Italy that in certain regional dialects those swearing expressions are commonly used as interludes in spoken language.

  14. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    All three expressions can often be heard in Italy. They are hardly associated with their actual meaning, just expletives.
    The fact they had to have recourse to lip reading is beyond ridiculous. His suspension is a farce.
    They say that mandrake screams when being pulled from the ground, so in a sense Mr Mandragora lives up to his name, albeit in silence…

    • Diane G
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

      OT, but–“They say that mandrake screams when being pulled from the ground…”

      Cool! Nice to learn a new superstition, now & then.

  15. Posted August 30, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    If you’re allowed to thank God for helping you score a goal without, getting charged with match-fixing, then you should be able to complain about Him too if he stops you.

  16. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    But what if the blasphemy is uttered under freedom of religion, say by atheists or satanists?

    Wikipedia includes among those countries Ireland, Austria, Finland, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Sweden.

    Blasphemy! Of course Sweden has no blasphemy laws, the link says so:

    “There is presently no act prohibiting blasphemy in the Swedish Law.”

    We do have hate laws, but that is something else entirely. It seems to me the Wikipedia entry confuses the different laws and their different purposes (protect a specific religion vs protect freedom of religion).

    • Pierluigi Ballabeni
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Wikipedia can not always be trusted. Lots of wrong things can be found in there.

      • Gamall
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

        Found, and as easily corrected. (Usually)

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      To me hate speech laws are blasphemy laws 2.0

  17. W.Benson
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    If you lived in the US, your employer might require you to attend Bible classes:
    https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2018/08/lawsuit_oregon_construction_wo.html

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      I saw this on another site. It is an unacceptable imposition. But if your employer demands this of you, why not go for it? I would wager that most subscribers to this site are far more knowledgeable about the bible than most pastors! A couple of sessions of serious discussion about the origin, authorship and meaning of these primitive texts ought to serve to send the pastors back to the safe haven of their captive flocks.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Sounds like a good idea, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the patience. “Ah fuck it, I can’t be arsed wasting my time with this Jesus shit” would probably get me thrown out of the class…

        And from the sound of it, if the pastor buggered off, the Goddy company owner would just find another Jesus huckster to replace him.

        cr

      • eric
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        AIUI, it’s illegal* to require it. Even if (as in this case) the employer pays for your time.

        *With exceptions; if the business’ business is religion, such as (working for) a church, they’re allowed to make religiously-based demands of behavior on their employees. No other business is, though.

        I expect he’ll win or they’ll settle. I also expect he won’t get the amount he’s asking for. Seems a bit ridiculous. Also something of a jerk move given that the business in question is run by an ex-con who offers jobs to newly released ex-cons because he thinks they should get a second chance. I’m not at all defending the employer’s illegal conduct; it should stop. But I don’t think driving his business into bankruptcy over it is the right response.

        • Diane G
          Posted August 30, 2018 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

          Good points.

  18. CAS
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Both Mussolini and Hitler did lots of “helpful” things for the Catholic church, giving them loads of goodies for their submission to Fascist and Nazi evil in separate concordats.

  19. Posted August 30, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Bravo! Now *everybody* gets to go back in time and check for lip reading!

  20. Kevin
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I lived in Italy for 25+ years: he didn’t say anything I haven’t heard a thousand times. The usual expletives used to express reaction to something frustrating.

    He could probably defend himself by saying that nobody actually heard him. If you can’t be heard, how can it be PUBLIC.

    Lip-reading is ambiguous and is really a guess at what someone is saying. Many sounds are ‘internal’ and don’t need you to move your lips. I normally say ‘Cane’ without moving my lips.

    Many lip movements have multiple sounds: “porco” could look like “borgo”.
    “Madonna” is similar to “bandana”, “zio” like “dio”.

    Its a bit like being accused of indecent exposure WITHOUT actually being seen by anybody.

  21. Davide Spinello
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    The former italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi once was recorded telling a rather unfunny joke about another politician (the joke was basically about physical appearance.) Not surprisingly Berlusconi has not faced any consequence despite the concluding “Orco Dio” (contraction of Porco Dio.)

    A “monsignore” at the time (Fisichella) even went on record explaining how the blasphemy was not that bad as it had to be contextualized.

  22. Michael Fisher
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    A literary lady expressing to Dr. J. her approbation of his Dictionary and, in particular, her satisfaction at his not having admitted into it any improper words; “No, Madam,” replied he, “I hope I have not daubed my fingers. I find, however that you have been looking for them” source

  23. SusanD
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    After seeing that hilarious lip-reading interpretation of Sarah Huckabee Sanders the other day I don’t see how anyone could definitively say, beyond all doubt, what this guy actually said. He should get another lip-reading expert and fight the case. What a load of crap.

  24. rickflick
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Those blasphemy laws don’t feel like a first world European civilization. They have the smell of a barbaric, 3rd world, theocratic backwater. Based on the dismal turnout for the Pope in Ireland recently, I suggest maybe Italy is in line for (at long last deserves) a reset when it comes to the roll of the Church in the life of the people.

    • Posted October 13, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      They are relics of the time when the “first world European civilization” was barbaric and theocratic – which was not that long ago.
      Except some resurrected or brand new blasphemy laws seeking to appease Islamist immigrants and facilitate their subjugation of native Europeans.

  25. Posted August 31, 2018 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    It looks like this web site is going to get blocked in Italy due to all the blasphemy in the comments. Jesus H Christ people, be more careful.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted August 31, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      🙂

  26. J. Quinton
    Posted August 31, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    *In a very exasperated Italian accent* Madonna…


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