You may not have noticed a bit of a fracas after the conclusion of Fiorntina’s 1-2 loss to Lazio yesterday, but that doesn’t mean the cameras weren’t still rolling as Franck Ribery approached Marco Guida’s refereeing crew at midfield and twice shove assistant ref Matteo Passeri before being pulled away by a Viola staffer. Serie A didn’t take long to respond, handing down a 3-match ban and a €20,000 fine to the Frenchman. There’s also a chance that he’ll face further internal discipline from the Gigliati after Rocco Commisso condemned his outburst.
It’s a massive blow to a suddenly sputtering Fiorentina, as Ribery’s ability to unlock a defense—he assisted Federico Chiesa’s equalizer—is another major absence manager Vincenzo Montella must plan around, as defenders Martín Cáceres (hamstring) and Luca Ranieri (red card) are also out for a bit, leaving the squad looking thin for the next few weeks.
Ribery, for his part, has since apologized on social media to Passeri, his team, and the fans. I’ve translated his statement into English.
“I’m very sorry for last night, I apologize to my teammates, to the Mister, to the fans. I apologize also to Mr. Passeri because at the end of the game he was very nervous and displeased and I hope he can understand my state of mind was. I would always like to stay on the pitch and lend a hand to my teammates, because I came to Florence for this city and this club and I expect more attention for Fiorentina, the attention given to the other clubs, for the great job that we are doing every day all together.”
As apologies go, it’s a bit rubbish, as he doesn’t address the fact that HE SHOVED A MATCH OFFICIAL and then tries to pretend that the issue was Passeri being nervous at Franck’s red-hot Gallic rage (rather than by the professional athlete trying to start a physical confrontation with him) but he at least mentions Passeri by name. It’s also cold comfort for the Viola over the next few weeks.
Ribery can count himself lucky to only miss 3 league fixtures, as his two shoves were more than what got Borja Valero slapped with a 4-match suspension back in 2014. The €20,000 fine, meanwhile is significant even for a player with Ribery’s career earnings (probably seven figures); it’s also twice what Serie A fined Atalanta for the racist taunts aimed at Dalbert a month ago, which throws a few things into sharp perspective.
Ribery was upset about Lazio’s late winner, which came after Jordan Lukaku clearly fouled Riccardo Sottil before crossing for Ciro Immobile to head home. Head ref Guida refused to even look at VAR to check the incident, leading to fury on the Viola bench. While that kind of fire is admirable from Ribery, he’s also the oldest and most experienced player on the roster and needs to hold his emotions in check. Pushing a referee is, quite simply, unacceptable, and he’s lucky that his punishment is as lenient as it is.