The Lazio defender Luiz Felipe has apologised after jumping on the back of Internazionale’s Joaquín Correa, a former teammate, as he celebrated after the final whistle in a 3-1 victory for the Rome club on Saturday.
Correa reacted angrily, with a melee ensuing between opposing players, and Luiz Felipe was consequently sent off at the Stadio Olimpico before departing the pitch in tears. Goals from Ciro Immobile, Felipe Anderson and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic had helped Maurizio Sarri’s side come from behind to take three points in Serie A.
In an Instagram post on Saturday evening featuring several photos of him and the Argentina international Correa during their Lazio days, in fancy dress, and on holiday together, Felipe issued a comprehensive apology, admitting it was “not the best time” to jump on his opponent, and insisting he meant no disrespect either to the player known as “Tucu”, or to his club.
“I would like to comment on the negative effects regarding what happened today, at the end of the game,’” Felipe, who represented Brazil at under-20 and under-23 level, wrote. “First of all, I want to clarify that I have great respect for Inter … We are all professionals, working to pursue our goals, and would never fail to respect another professional.
“At the end of the game I jumped on Tucu’s shoulders because he is one of the great friends that football has given me. Our families are friends and we have always been very close … I wanted to hug him and joke about the result, as far as our friendship allows, but I got excited.
“Perhaps, in retrospect, it was not the best time or the most suitable place. I apologise to anyone who felt offended and I did not try, in any way, to be disrespectful towards him, towards other athletes or towards Internazionale and its passionate fans. It was an innocent act, by a person who has a great affection for Tucu !!”
Luiz Felipe predictably came in for plenty of criticism on social media for his actions, but will hope the frank apology gets fans off his back. Lazio now sit fifth in the Italian top flight, with 14 points from eight matches. Inter remain third, three points ahead of Lazio, with Milan topping the table on 22 points, one ahead of second-placed Napoli.