Radja Nainggolan during a game between Roma and Juventus. He has been dropped for Saturday’s game against Atalanta. (Getty)
Roma has benched Radja Nainggolan for Saturday’s game against Atalanta as punishment for videos the Belgian midfielder posted to Instagram on New Year’s Eve.
Nainggolan has since deleted and apologized for the video, which featured him smoking, drinking, cursing and setting off fireworks.
(Warning: Videos include drug use and NSFW language, though not in English)
Nainggolan’s public partying – well, private, but made public by his own posting to social media – apparently violated club rules. As a result, he’s effectively been suspended by Roma for one game.
Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco began his Friday news conference with an explanation.
“Before you ask me about Radja, I’ll tell you about it,” he said. “Given the club’s policies, and these are completely shared by me, and shared and accepted — and I repeat the word ‘accepted’ — by the player, [Nainggolan] will not be called up to play Atalanta tomorrow.
“This is down to him breaking a kind of conduct which has got to be constant for everybody at AS Roma or anybody who represents AS Roma, who makes determined errors, which are unacceptable. Anybody who makes a mistake, even minimally, will pay in the same way. This is our policy. All I will say is that Radja will not be called up.”
Di Francesco added: “Radja knows what he’s done. Furthermore, if somebody comes and takes a picture of you doing something, that’s one thing, but filming yourself doing it is even worse.”
The morning after the videos appeared, Nainggolan initially tweeted his irritation with Italian media who had covered them as news, writing, “Even on New Year’s, all you think about is making the news … happy new year to everybody except for them … go get a life.”
Anche a capodanno pensate a fare le notizie… auguro un buon anno a tutti tranne a quelli… ma fatevi una vita…
— Radja Nainggolan (@OfficialRadja) January 1, 2018
Roma trained on New Year’s Day, and Nainggolan participated. He then issued his apology later in the day.
“I’m sorry about what happened tonight,” he wrote. “As you know, I like having fun with my friends and I love celebrating New Year… but last night I went too far. I saw it as a special night where you can exaggerate a little…
“I certainly didn’t intend to give a negative example. This is why I feel I need to apologize for my words and my behavior. Forza Roma forever…!!!”
Nainggolan has been a key player for Roma, and finished second in the club’s player of the year voting, but has also been linked with a move to China.
Saturday’s game is Roma’s last before the Serie A winter break. Its next – and therefore Nainggolan’s next – is Jan. 21 at third-place Inter Milan. Roma, in fourth, is nine points back of league-leader Napoli, and needs wins against both Atalanta and Inter to hang around in the title race.