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‘Referee has a rubbish bin where his heart should be’

Understanding how and why someone could deny the facts


Fiorentina – Inter was an eventful match where two teams fought to gain a positive result. And both did.

Nobody can’t deny the spirit and the effort Pioli’s men showed at the Franchi. Muriel free kick was a thing of beauty. Biraghi goal, later disallowed after consulting the VAR, was a peach of a goal.

Inter put on a display of prolificity the team missed so much. Perisic, Nainggolan, Politano were on and hot during the 106 minutes of the match.

Yes, 106 minutes. 48 minutes for the first half, 58 for the second. This Fiorentina – Inter is going down in the history of Serie A as the longest game ever. But it was also filled with some unclear decisions by the referee, only partially sorted by the VAR.

I thanked Lega Calcio, FIGC and AIA for the introduction of the VAR during the whole game, not only because it helped Inter to that point: as said before, Biraghi goal was awarded by Abisso, the referee summoned for this fixture, and only the VAR check by Fabbri cleared the decision as D’Ambrosio was fouled by Muriel; Abisso also failed to award a penalty to Inter for a handball by Edimilson and the penalty was awarded later on after another consultation with the VAR. Two mistakes that could have changed the game. Inter was, at that point, leading 3-2 thanks to that penalty and thanks to Fabbri’s check on the VAR. The video assisted referee system helps keeping the game as fair as possible, reducing post match discussions. But was Abisso ready to admit the third mistake, the one that condemned Inter? No, he wasn’t.

Would you say it is a fair assessment to affirm that if this episode would’ve happened at the end of the first half or in any other point of the match, Abisso would’ve recognized what the whole Italy and the whole world of football is saying, which is that Chiesa ball hit D’Ambrosio on the chest and not on his hand?

In the title I quoted Gianluigi Buffon after the Champions League 2nd leg of quarter-final against Real Madrid when a penalty awarded at the 93rd minute, ruled out Juventus from a sure semi-final. In that occasion, the penalty was clear and Buffon words sounded…so Italian?

Mind this, the man behind the keyboard was born and raised over there for over 20 years. I understand what Italians feel and how Italians think. When Buffon spoke at the end of the game, I giggled thinking of our mentality of awarding things based on questionable effort, lotting without meritocracy. He wished the English referee would’ve thought “it’s the 93rd minute, what a shame would be if I follow the rules instead of closing my eyes and pretending that Lucas dived. How pitiful would be for Juventus.”

I believe Rosario Abisso felt at the same way about himself. Two mistakes corrected by VAR, a system introduced to help referees and not punishing them, that changed the complexion of the game. Am I man enough to swallow my pride in front of the video assistance and overrule my decision? What AIA, the Italian Referee Association, will think about me? After all, Fiorentina deserves a point for the effort showed tonight. And I’ve punished them twice already.

The pressure was on. The images went forwards and backwards with different camera angle and there is nobody who reviewed that episode that will say that was handball, that was a penalty.

Italy is that place where there is a strong culture based on suspicion. Especially in football. And history shows how…we’re right to be suspicious! The average interista will think about a conspiracy, reposting Mourinho handcuff gesture on social network. The truth is much more simple: the referee was inadequate for the match and lacked in guts in stepping back and recognize his mistake once again. Wrongly. And most likely we won’t see him in a big Serie A match for at least a month.

The after math saw Spalletti going nut live on Sky Sport Italia, Brozovic and Nainggolan complaining on Instagram, even Handanovic revealing how furious the team is after that poor decision in an interview. Inter loses 2 points. A.C. Milan is now at -2 from Inter’s third place. Pressure is on but the team can thrive from this game, knowing their football is finally flowing the right way.

As for VAR in Serie A, the protocol needs to be improved. Referees need to be comfortable in using it. The system helps, the system works. Maybe it causes too many interruptions in the game, see those 16 minutes of extra time in yesterday’s game, and the clock should be stop when VAR is used.

Referee call must remain the last call. But perhaps talking on the mic, explaining their decision in the stadium loudspeaker could be a solution to integrate, like in Australian National Rugby League?

What’s your opinion? Let us know in the comments box below.