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By ESPN Staff
Jul 3, 2006

Lippi denies Italians wanted Frings banned

DORTMUND, July 3 (Reuters) - Italy coach Marcello Lippi said on Monday nobody in Italy's camp had made any moves to get FIFA to open an investigation into Germany midfielder Torsten Frings.

FIFA earlier said Frings had been banned from Tuesday's World Cup semi-final against Italy for throwing a punch at an opponent in the brawl that followed his team's quarter-final victory over Argentina at the Olympiastadion.

'Let this be clear for everyone, no-one from our side has lifted a finger for this to happen. There was disbelief on our part this morning,' Lippi told a news conference.

World soccer's governing body began an investigation after an Italian television station broadcast pictures they said proved Frings tried to punch Argentina forward Julio Ricardo Cruz following Germany's penalty shootout win on Friday.

Although Lippi was not asked specifically if Italy had played a role in the affair, he twice stated that there had been no initiative regarding Frings on their part.

'Our Federation has been very clear about this. We didn't know anything. I don't know what happened. None of us said a word.

'If other people want to wind things up for their own reasons that's nothing to do with us,' Lippi said when asked if the decision would fire up the home crowd even more.

The role of Italian media in highlighting Frings' involvement in the post-match fracas on Saturday had led some German media to object that there was an effort being made to get the player banned for the game.

'Italians want Frings suspended,' read the page one headline in Germany's best-selling Bild daily on Monday. 'Are they so afraid of us?'

'We didn't request the decision taken on Frings,' said Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon. 'If they have punished him that means that he needed to be punished.'

Midfielder Andrea Pirlo added: 'We're happy that an important player for them is missing. But someone else, of his ability, will come in to to try and stop Italy.'

Forward Alessandro Del Piero agreed that Germany had the strength in depth to cope with the absence of Frings.

'If you look at the team, and their substitutes, starting with (Tim) Borowski who came on against Argentina and changed the course of the game with his part in the equaliser, they're certainly capable of finding a suitable replacement, without taking away from the fact that he (Frings) is a great player.'

Playmaker Francesco Totti, who would probably have been marked by Frings, said the absence of the combative German midfielder would definitely make a difference.

'I'm sorry for Frings that he has to miss the game due to a ban but it gives us a little advantage,' he said.