AC Milan chief executive officer Adriano Galliani does not condone the behaviour of Gennaro Gattuso in his bust-up with Joe Jordan, but has reiterated that the Italian was provoked.
Milan's captain on the night has been charged with gross unsporting conduct by Uefa after twice clashing with Tottenham's assistant manager in the first leg of Tuesday's Champions League last-16 tie.
Gattuso, officially vice-skipper to the absent Massimo Ambrosini, first of all pushed Jordan in the throat during the 90 minutes of Spurs' 1-0 win at the San Siro and then head-butted the Scot in an ugly melee after the final whistle.
One of Gattuso's agents has claimed that Jordan caused the second confrontation by shouting, '******* Italian *******', and Galliani also says that the 33-year-old was goaded.
The Milan executive told Italian media: "What Rino did was an unpleasant episode that was not good. But he has been deeply provoked and should not be criminalised."
Gattuso was booked during the match for a rash challenge on Steven Pienaar after which the Italian repeatedly hit the turf in anger and the yellow card ensures he will be suspended for the return leg at White Hart Lane on 9th March.
That ban is almost certain to be extended when Uefa's control and disciplinary body meet on Monday to discuss the case and some reports have suggested that the suspension could be extended to as many as eight games.
But Milan are hopeful that the European football governing body will not be too harsh on a player who has only been sent off once in more than 100 European matches.
Galliani said: "Milan will present a defensive dossier tomorrow (Friday) and we will ask that Gattuso's behaviour for 104 games be considered. Then we will see what to do after the decision."
Reports have suggested that Gattuso could be stripped of his club's vice-captaincy, but Galliani added: "Rino is and remains our vice-captain. The choices are made within the squad."