Marchisio accused of mocking Italian national anthem

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Claudio Marchisio has been accused of mocking the Italian national anthem during the national anthem before Italy's friendly match against Switzerland last Saturday.

The controversy began after a video showing the Juventus midfielder adding the phrase "Ché schiava di Roma" (The slave of Rome) in the anthem's lyrics.

And the controversy was fueled further when his teammates on the bench turned to Marchisio and laughed.

This has been interpreted as an insult to Rome and the term is often used to refer to the corruption of Italian politics.

The controversy has led to calls from the politicians, newspapers and fans for Marchisio to be dropped from Italy's World Cup squad.

"There was no offensive phrase," assured Marchisio in a statement today.

"Quite simply I just got my timing wrong, so I was out of sync with the band and the movement of my lips didn’t match up with the anthem."

Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro, who was one of the players around him who turned and laughed after the incident, has also dismissed allegations that Marchisio altered the lyrics to offend the city of Rome.

He told ANSA news agency: "The truth is that this is a ridiculous country.

"What simply happened was that during the anthem we were getting our timing wrong. We were all losing our place, Marchisio in particular, between the sound of the band and the different tempo of the crowd’s singing.

"Because of that, and only because of that, we started laughing."

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