There have been some questionable decisions made by the footballing authorities on the peninsula in recent years. Too many, in all honesty. Yet the latest, which saw Roma awarded a 3-0 victory at Cagliari 24 hours after the game was called off, was one of the more debatable.
Cagliari deserve to be punished for the ridiculous actions of their President Massimo Cellino. Of that there is no doubt. To invite fans to come and watch a game at a stadium which does not yet have the necessary safety certificates is just crazy, even by Italian football’s standards.
What is up for debate is whether Roma should have been awarded the three points. Sure, Cagliari were in violation of a number of articles within the rule book, but each case should be judged on its own unique circumstances. And this was unquestionably unique. The encounter had not kicked off, the behaviour of fans didn’t cause its abandonment and Cagliari’s players, for all intents and purposes, were ready to do battle.
What really needs to be assessed with regard to the resulting fictional away win is what harm was actually done to Roma? And is the awarding of three points just compensation? “We are the damaged party in this affair,” stated Roma director general Franco Baldini. “We had organised everything for this match, including flights and hotels.
“Roma do not just need to look after their own interests and those of their fans, but also protect the sacrosanct right to respect rules in competitions. They cannot be bent to suit subjective needs.”
Baldini is clearly correct in terms of the latter, but, one could argue, the only real damage caused to them at the weekend was one of inconvenience and financial cost. Let us not forget, after all, that Roma booked into their Sardinian lodge without the injured trio of Francesco Totti, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Daniele De Rossi. Not bad footballing circumstances at all to be gifted a victory.
In giving Roma a 3-0 win, the authorities run the risk of falsifying a championship. For the sake of argument, how do you think other clubs would react if Roma won the Scudetto, qualified for the Champions League, Europa League or survived relegation by a margin of less than three points? It would be Calcio’s World War XXIV.
What arguably would have been a fairer solution for this sorry mess would be to dock Cagliari three points, get the Sardinian outfit to cover the capital club’s costs and reschedule the game. That way, let’s allow the best team on the day to win rather than the club with the least provocative President.