Gennaro Gattuso will consider a defence of provocation if, as expected, he is charged by Uefa's disciplinary committee for butting Tottenham Hotspur assistant manager Joe Jordan.
The AC Milan midfielder is facing the prospect of a lengthy ban after his clashes with Jordan during, and after, Tuesday's Champions League tie at the San Siro which Tottenham Hotspur won 1-0.
The Uefa committee will meet on Monday to consider the reports of referee Stephane Lannoy and the match delegate, although a spokesman for the organisation said it did not require the incidents to be mentioned by them for action to be taken.
"From time to time it can happen that things are not mentioned but we are made aware of incidents through media reports," he said. Television pictures of Gattuso's conduct are conclusive and he has since apologised for his behaviour.
On Wednesday, however, one of his representatives, Andrea D'Amico, claimed that Gattuso was provoked by Jordan. "He was provoked but it is also true he showed weakness by falling into that trap," D'Amico said. "It's one thing to be sitting on the bench and winding people up, another to be running for an hour and a half. Reactions can be dictated by tension.
"Rino apologised, above all to his own fans for the effect this has on the image of Milan and his role as captain. From my point of view, it is important to reaffirm some people exaggerated their criticism. Gattuso's career speaks for itself with regards to fair play, quite aside from the competitive vigour he has always put into the sport.
"He is a very sincere and fair man, so certain comments seem over the top to me. Rino knows when you are captain of Milan there are certain duties for the club and fans, so this is why he apologised. In fact, he was a gentleman in not revealing what Joe Jordan said because when you take an attitude like that, there's not much to say.
"Rino didn't kill anyone. Certain comments show more about people than mistakes made. We apologise and await any disciplinary action."
Earlier another of Gattuso's representatives, Claudio Pasqualin, had claimed that Jordan had called the player a "------- Italian -------." Gattuso's protestations are unlikely to wash with Uefa who have taken a hard line on such behaviour in the Champions League, especially when it has been caught by TV cameras.
However, Uefa did confirm that no action would be taken against Mathieu Flamini for his horrendous two-footed tackle on Vedran Corluka because the midfielder had been cautioned by the referee.
"If he's been shown a card nothing can be done," a spokesman said which is not strictly true although, clearly, the body does not want to be seen to go against one of its officials.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said he thought that Gattuso had approached the bench after the match to apologise for his behaviour. "I shook hands with him. I thought he was OK and realised he'd made a mistake," Redknapp added. "Next thing I know he's nutted Joe. Not that it had much effect on him. Joe's the quietest man in the world but a very hard man. You wouldn't want to pick an argument with him."
Goalscorer Peter Crouch said that the provocation had come from Gattuso. "I think Gattuso was happy to wind up anyone who would listen," he said. "I think top players don't like losing and, when they do, they get riled and do anything to try and rattle you. I think we were very professional – didn't rise to anything and just got on with the game."
Crouch said that the first-leg victory, which was earned with a weakened team, meant "there's probably no limit to what we can achieve".
He added: "I don't think we have got anyone to fear. We've had a great comeback here last time against Inter; we beat Inter at home; we have come away from home, which was a fantastic test for us, and to win in Milan, hopefully people will start believing that we can do something in this competition.
"It's not over because Milan are a great side. With their forward players, I think they can go anywhere and score goals. But we've put ourselves in such a good position now that we'd be very disappointed if we didn't go through."