MILAN - Inter Milan's march to the Serie A title further unravelled on Monday when coach Jose Mourinho was banned for three league matches and four players were suspended for next weekend's trip to Udinese.
Outspoken Mourinho, whose side host his former club Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday, has been punished for making a handcuffs gesture during Saturday's controversial 0-0 home draw with Sampdoria.
The Serie A leaders had Walter Samuel and Ivan Cordoba sent off in the first half on Saturday before Samuel Eto'o was booked for diving in the box, prompting Mourinho to burst out laughing in the dugout and make the gesture to television cameras.
The Portuguese also insulted the officials in the tunnel at half-time and has been fined 40,000 euros, the Italian League said in a statement.
Defenders Samuel and Cordoba received one-game bans for their dismissals but team-mates Esteban Cambiasso and Sulley Muntari were given two-match bans for off-the-field incidents.
Cambiasso has been punished for trying to punch an opposition player in the tunnel at half-time while fellow midfielder Muntari swore at the fourth official.
The absences mean Inter, already hit by injuries, will be decimated at Udinese next Sunday having seen their Serie A lead slashed in recent weeks following three straight draws.
AS Roma are five points adrift of the champions while AC Milan can go four points behind with a win at Fiorentina in their game in hand on Wednesday.
Mourinho has been banned from the touchline and fined several times during his year-and-a-half in Italy and Italian soccer federation chief Giancarlo Abete has had enough.
"Each time there are over-the-top gestures or comments it creates exasperation," he told www.gazzetta.it.
"This is a delicate phase of the season, we need respect for everyone else because over-excited football is no good."
Inter president Massimo Moratti, who stopped his coach talking to the press on Saturday, was confused by the gesture.
"He did it, he knows why and he must explain it. Maybe he meant that 'they' wanted to stop us," said Moratti.
Colourful Mourinho has long moaned that referees are against his team and last week said "there is only one penalty area that extends to 25 metres" after rivals Juventus were awarded a penalty for a foul on the edge of the box against Genoa.comments