Inter coach cops three-match ban

ROME: Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho was on Monday hit with a three-match ban for insulting officials and making a 'handcuffs' gesture during Saturday's Serie A match against Sampdoria.

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Inter Milan's coach Jose Mourinho gestures during a news conference at La Pinetina training center in Appiano Gentile, near Milan February 23, 2010. Inter Milan will face Chelsea in their UEFA Champions League soccer match on Wednesday.

The former Chelsea manager was also fined 40,000 euros by the Italian sporting justice.

And the sanctions didn't stop there for Inter as Walter Samuel and Ivan Cordoba, both sent off against Sampdoria, were banned for one match each while Muntari Sulley and Esteban Cambiasso copped two-game suspensions.

Muntari's was for "repeatedly insulting officials" while Cambiasso has been sanctioned for "trying to punch a Sampdoria player during the interval".

But it is Mourinho, the bete noir of the Italian press, who has suffered the most.

His punishment was for "having repeatedly contested the referee's decisions during the course of the game with dramatic behavior including ... the handcuffs gesture ... (and) for having insulted the referee and his assistants during the interval."

Inter immediately expressed their intention to appeal against the sanctions imposed on Mourinho, Cambiasso and Muntari.

President Massimo Moratti said: "We weren't expecting something like that."

Mourinho refused to speak to the press after the Sampdoria game and has not explained his gesture but Moratti earlier on Monday offered a possible reason.

"What does it mean? He (Mourinho) did it, he knows and it's up to him to explain it. Maybe he meant that they want to stop us," said Moratti, without adding further illumination.

Mourinho's agent, Eladio Parames, claimed it was just a misunderstanding. "It didn't have anything to do with the referee. It meant something else: 'you can take me away or arrest me but my team is so good they'll win anyway, even if we're playing with nine men'," he said.