Referee Nicola Rizzoli reveals he had been picked to officiate the Euro 2012 Final – until Italy qualified. “I’m happy for the Azzurri anyway.”
The man in charge of tonight’s Spain-Italy match in Kiev will be Portugal’s Pedro Proença.
“It’s not easy to explain what I was feeling during Italy-Germany,” Rizzoli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We had prepared all year and always target the maximum objective, but then you have to deal with numerous variables. All it takes is one error to destroy months of work.
“In any case, our refereeing team was united and probably the most complete of the tournament. We had three games and were improving all the time. The Final was within our grasp, but then the Azzurri arrived...
“Naturally we are incredibly happy for the Azzurri! The players are the protagonists of the football spectacle and we come afterwards. A long way afterwards.
“Of course I will watch the Final and cheer on Italy without regrets. We could not have done more than that to reach the Final, but the destiny of a referee is tied to the national teams.”
Rizzoli also explained the difference between officiating in Serie A and in a major international tournament.
“In Italy even a throw-in becomes reason for players to protest. We all need to make a collective effort to change that mentality, starting from directors to players and then journalists. In fact, the media probably have the most important role, as instead of putting out the fire, they pour petrol on it.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition  - £5,000 monthly.