OCTOBER 10, 2000

Schumacher responds to Italian anthem claims

World champion Michael Schumacher has responded to criticism from former Italian president Francesco Cossiga by insisting that has the utmost respect for the country's national anthem.

Cossiga was angered after the German had conducted the crowd following his victory in the Japanese Grand Prix during the Italian national anthem but Schumacher said he never intended to cause any upset.

"I have the utmost respect for the Italian national anthem," Schumacher said. "From the podium I saw everyone underneath chanting and dancing, so I did the same."

"We were all overwhelmed with joy. I apologize if my behavior has been interpreted as a sign of disrespect."

Meanwhile, Schumacher will undergo an operation after the season-ending Malaysian Grand Prix to remove a pin inserted into his leg following his accident in last year's British Grand Prix.