Football: `Small-minded' referees may drive Ravanelli out of France

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The Independent Online
Fabrizio Ravanelli has threatened to walk out of French football if referees do not stop discriminating against him.

"If they want to drive me out of France, they're going about it the right way," the former Middlesbrough striker said after being refused a penalty in Marseilles' 1-0 defeat to Nantes on Saturday. "It can't go on like this. It's so small-minded."

The pounds 5m French record signing was accused in the media of diving to win a penalty when Marseilles beat Paris St-Germain three weeks ago. "Ever since, referees have given every decision against me," he said.

The Italian international received support from his club captain, Laurent Blanc, who said, "It's blatant, referees are singling him out."

Ravanelli's compatriot, Marco Simone, who plays for Paris St-Germain, told him to grow up, however. "This sort of thing happens in football. It's swings and roundabouts," he said.

His coach at Marseilles, Rolland Courbis, wondered whether they could afford to put Ravanelli on the bench. "He's the club's biggest investment, but the way things are going we can't use him," he said. "If that continues, we have got to look at the commercial implications of keeping him."

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