Italian referees have had enough of Jose Mourinho's antics and are reportedly ready to go on strike if the Inter Milan boss is not severely punished.
Mourinho took a swipe at officials at the end of last week and is seen to have overstepped the mark by making what appeared to be a handcuffs gesture during Saturday's goalless draw against Sampdoria, when three players were sent off.
Inter were so incensed that they imposed a news blackout after the game at the San Siro, where Inter's Ivan Cordoba and Walter Samuel were both dismissed by referee Paolo Tagliavento in the first half before Giampaolo Pazzini saw red for the visitors with 17 minutes to play.
It is claimed the fourth official was distracted as Mourinho made his provocative gesture and the officials are ready to fight back.
Off day: Walter Samuel (centre) was one of three players sent off by referee Paolo Tagliavento during Inter Milan and Sampdoria's goalless draw on Saturday
Close encounter: Samuel Eto'o is none too pleased to receive a yellow card
They want him banned and are prepared to strike if the 47-year-old escapes with a fine, according to Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport.
Italian referees chief Marcello Nicchi insists it is completely false that referees have been performing badly, and officials are said to be concerned that they are at risk at violence from the notorious 'ultras' if the unreasonable criticism continues.
Influencial AC Milan general manager Adriano Galliani, a former president of the Italian League, also fears an unsavoury reaction.
'The attitudes of some coaches are tantamount to an incitement to violence,' said Galliani. 'We cannot continue like this. Mourinho should stop certain gestures.'
Galliani also hit out at Inter for not talking to the media after Saturday's draw.
'My regret from when I was president of the League is failing to prevent the press blackout .
'In American sports it is strictly prohibited and also in the Champions League. In Italy we aren't able to ban it.
'I don't know why the presidents harm to themselves. The news blackout is something out of this world, football teams live on television revenues and indirectly with those of the print media, who feed the attention for their fans.'
Before the Sampdoria match, Mourinho hit the headlines by referring to a controversial penalty won by Juventus a week earlier when Alessandro Del Piero was clearly fouled outside the penalty box. It helped the Turin side to a 3-2 win against Genoa.
'I don't stick my head in the sand, I know there is only one team (in Italy) that has a penalty area 25 metres (27 yards) long,' he jibed.
The ever-controversial coach needs little distraction in the run-up to Wednesday's Champions League showdown, when Inter face his former club Chelsea in the last 16 first leg.
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