Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Lega chief defends refs

Lega Calcio President Antonio Matarrese has come out in support of referees following renewed criticism of them after Inter's controversial penalty against Parma on Sunday.

Parma were incensed when referee Andrea Gervasoni pointed to the spot in the 87th minute, adjudging Fernando Couto to have handled Zlatan Ibrahimovic's shot on the line - an offence for which the veteran defender was sent off.

The visitors, who had been winning 2-1, went on to lose 3-2 and the debate over whether the spot-kick should have been given has resounded throughout Italy.

But Matarrese has moved quickly to rule out any notion of favouritism.

"It's the usual nonsense," Matarrese told Sky Italia. "Referees can make mistakes but cheating is out of the question.

"The club Presidents get angry because they discharge themselves of any fault, but there shouldn't be a referee witch-hunt.

"Nevertheless I share their anger.

"(Parma President Tommaso) Ghirardi called me a little while ago and he was still complaining.

"I have taken his complaints to the President of AIA (Italian Referees Association) Cesare Gussoni."

Parma also felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Inter's Ivan Cordoba barged into Bernardo Corradi in the 21st minute.

Gussoni was swift to deny accusations of any wrongdoing among his referees and has pleaded for irate football fans to give the whistle-blowers time to settle into Serie A.

"Let's leave these lads free to make mistakes as well," he said. "Little by little their weight will increase.

"This season, 20 per cent of the games have been directed by referees only in their second year in Serie A and that has never happened before.

"It's obvious that someone with only 10 games in Serie A under their belt can easily make a mistake or be fooled by a dive.

"A few errors by referees can happen but I don't see why they have to definitely be because of corruption.

"There's no favouritism and let's not put faults down to favouritism because that offends the people who are managing the championship as best they can and without a lot of experience.

"But in all probability if I had been on the pitch I too would have awarded a penalty in the Inter-Parma game."

Parma's sense of injustice boiled over after the penalty incident with coach Domenico Di Carlo also seeing red for taking his protests too far.

And the Gialloblu boss was still fuming a day later, feeling his side were robbed of the three points.

"When it comes to important decisions there is still psychological favouritism of a big club," Di Carlo told radio programme Radio goal.

"Even against Fiorentina there were cases of that and the same discussion is valid for yesterday.

"Gervasoni is a top referee who will have a good career, but yesterday he was deceived by his assistant who, if he was good enough to spot the hand of Couto, should have been equally so in the incident of the foul by Cordoba which was without a doubt much more obvious.

"But to be angry with the refereeing we had in the game against Inter unfortunately means little.

"Only points count and we didn't get any."

Source: Sporting Life

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