UEFA has charged Francesco Totti for gross unsporting conduct and banned the Italy forward for three games after he spat at Denmark midfield player Christian Poulsen during the sides’ goalless draw on Monday.

Totti will now miss tomorrow’s game against Sweden in Porto and the Azzurri’s final Group C fixture against Bulgaria in Guimaraes as well as a quarter -final tie, should Italy progress to the knock out stages.

“I am very distressed about what happened. I ask the public to forgive me,’ said Totti.

“I don’t remember the incident seen in this video,” Totti’s advisors quoted him as saying in his submission to UEFA’s disciplinary committee.

“I would like you to know this was not the true Francesco Totti, it was another.”

The 27-year-old Totti had until midnight last night to submit a statement to UEFA’s control and disciplinary body after being charged yesterday.

The loss of Totti is a huge blow for Italy. Before the competition started he was singled out by coach Giovanni Trapattoni as the team’s one indispensable player. Indeed, many critics believed that the Roma man was destined to become the player of the tournament. However, following Monday’s incident, Totti seems destined to be remembered for less savoury reasons.

In his absence, Trapattoni is expected to turn to Antonio Cassano to fill the playmaker’s role.