Manchester United have landed in hot water ahead of their Champions League clash against Juventus after an article on their website referred to their Italian rivals using the disparaging term ‘Rubentus’.

The term – a play on the Italian verb ‘rubare’, to steal – is often used by Italian football fans to deride the 34-time Serie A winners, who are often accused of wielding political power to influence results.

In the article on Manchester United’s website, the author made reference to the term and its origins, and highlighted a series of events over the past decades in which Italian clubs were accused of being unsportsmanlike.

The article was taken offline within hours of it being posted – but not before Italian news agencies had taken a screenshot of the offending paragraph and described the article as a “gaffe”.

Juventus were relegated to Serie B in 2006 for their part in the Calciopoli scandal. Originally accused of match-fixing, the courts subsequently found that the club had been guilty of anti-sporting behaviour.

While fan pages and forums dedicated to Inter, Fiorentina and other leading Juventus rivals often insult the club using the term ‘Rubentus’, its appearance in a website on the Red Devils’ official website risked causing a diplomatic incident on Tuesday afternoon.

As Juventus fans raged on social media, fans of rival clubs took the opportunity to wind up their much-loathed rivals. 

Manchester United will host Juventus at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening for the first time in 15 years. The game will have added significance for the Old Lady’s number 7, Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be returning to the stadium in which he received his first Balon d’Or.

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