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Monday April 16 2018
Buffon storm must end

Gigi Buffon must find a way to both express his passion and calm the media frenzy that risks damaging his reputation, writes Richard Thomas.

The extent of the furore caused by Gigi Buffon's reaction to the Real Madrid penalty has gone too far - but the Italy number one should apologise in full.

Make no mistake - what the 40-year-old did was wrong. Although understandable in the heat of the moment, his initial, aggressive reaction to Michael Oliver's decision to award Los Blancos an injury time spot-kick in last week's Champions League quarter final second leg was wrong. He was deservedly shown a red card for foul-mouthed dissent and with it, the chance to save Cristiano Ronaldo's winning penalty.

It was also wrong of Buffon to heap ridicule on Oliver post-match, accusing the Englishman of having “a rubbish bin for a heart” and that he should have been “in the stand...eating crisps and drinking Sprite” rather than officiating a match between two heavyweights of world football.

Buffon's hysterical comments caused Oliver a great deal of offence - both professionally and personally - culminating in the sad news that he and his wife had received death threats in the days that followed the controversy at the Bernabeu. Though obviously not the perpetrator of that crime, Buffon must see that his comments were the catalyst for the events that followed.

Finally, it was wrong of Buffon to stop short of a full apology when questioned on the matter in the build up to Juve's Serie A match with Sampdoria on Sunday. Though the goalkeeper admitted he would have used 'different words' to criticise Oliver with the benefit of hindsight, he by and large stood by his comments - comments that did a lot of damage to the reputations of both Oliver and himself.

This is not to say that Buffon must admit Oliver was right to award the spot-kick. Although in my opinion it was the correct decision, football was, is and always will be the world's most hotly-debated sport. The Juve shot-stopper is fully entitled to disagree with the decision and criticise it if he sees fit.

Though petty and not at all to be condoned, neither was Buffon's on-field reaction to Oliver's decision unique in the slightest. What's more, it received the punishment it warranted at the time. It wasn't pretty to watch and undermined the various ongoing campaigns from football's governing bodies to show officials greater levels of respect, but Buffon is far, far from alone in having crossed that line.

To suggest, as some have, that the veteran's legacy will be tainted when he hangs up his gloves for good because he showed dissent is absurd. Comparisons to Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt on Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup are equally ludicrous. Shouting at a referee after a contentious decision is hardly the same thing as GBH.

Buffon is also far, far from alone in criticising match officials in the aftermath of a closely-fought contest. What he should apologise for are his choice of words and - most importantly - the ramifications that they caused for Oliver on a human level. 

Buffon justified his post-match rant by saying his passionate outburst was merely a case of his being who he is - 'I am Gigi Buffon.' That is the problem. Those who are pointing to his famous comment that he wouldn’t have told the referee Sulley Muntari’s ‘phantom’ goal was over the line, even if he had seen it behind his head, are missing the crux of the matter.

It would be easy to apologise unreservedly and sweep the whole thing under the carpet, but he wouldn’t mean it. It would’ve been easy to say he’d confess to the Milan goal, but it wouldn’t have been true. Honesty is not always the best policy and it certainly isn’t when dealing with the delicate diplomacy of international football.

If he could be the Gigi Buffon who, as Max Allegri rightly said, has by and large been an exemplary and classy role model throughout his glittering 20-year career, it would draw a line under this media storm that has been howling ever since. 

Have your say...
Benatia a month ago:"people always cry wolf and complain about referees when losing vs Juve, I had the same when I played for Roma. Now I see it is just jealousy."

Benatia after Madrid-Juve:"disgusting, I don't know if I want to keep on playing foorball after these disgraceful injustices."

Again: LIVE BY THE SWORD, DIE BY THE SWORD!

The hypocracy of Juventus shown to all the world, double standards if ever there were....
on the 16th April, 2018 at 7:19pm
The irony here...In Seria A Juventus get so many controversial decisions and penalties in their favor but yet their whole team and fans are crying "foul play" here even though it was a clear penalty. Benatia pushed with both hands and then flung his leg in last gasp attempt to prevent a simple tap-in goal...but somehow Juventus players, staff and fans fail to see it...Simply embarrassing and disgusting. Learn how to lose with dignity and enjoy the taste of your medicine!!!
on the 16th April, 2018 at 5:54pm
@Paolo congratulations on completely misinterpreting Del Piero's comments. And Buffon is hugely liked in Italy probably more so than Del Piero (this coming from a big Del Piero fan).
on the 16th April, 2018 at 5:39pm
Nothing better to write about? Buffon does not need to apologize for expressing his emotions and thoughts. You guys in the press circulate the comments and make it a bigger deal than it is.
Referees have always received death threats, it's wrong and disgusting, however, you cannot place the blame on Buffon because he has an opinion.
Buffon should condemn the death threats but grovel for forgiveness in order to satisfy the sycophantic media? No way.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 4:34pm
Rez is the kind of fanboy Del Piero was taLking about.

"Such people aren't worthy of attention. What is going on here?" quote Del Piero.

If you were italian you would know Alex is far more liked in Italy than Buffon. Hes an icon like Maldini, Zanetti, Totti. Buffon is not.

Funny thing he also won a Champions League. Buffon did not.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 3:55pm
Irony at its finest, those last few seconds of that match is basically karma for decades upon decades of identical calls in Juve's favour in Serie A.
Was it a soft penalty? YES, was it a penalty? YES.

Move on and CONTINUA LA SOGNARE RUBE!!!!!
on the 16th April, 2018 at 2:37pm
Just how exactly the writer found out that Buffon's protest during the match was foul-mouthed?
on the 16th April, 2018 at 2:36pm
Buffon was right. The ref's call was wrong, even if the foul was authentic, it was far too soft to call at that time, in that game; the call showed Oliver's inexperience and fear. Buffon, on the other hand, had no fear, and he had no fear because he was right.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 2:03pm
GiGi is only human, He has been a gentleman and a professional for over 20 years, but enough is enough.

how could you watch a team suffer and toil through 90+3 minutes to only give the softest penalty in the history of god damn football.

Benatia gets foot on the ball, Vasquez goes down like a little ..... stadium goes in uproar, and star struck Michael Oliver gives a penalty.

He deserves what ever the hell he gets, He needs to grow balls!! it was Juve V Madrid for god sake!!!!!!!
on the 16th April, 2018 at 1:10pm
Rez - relevant in Italian football? Babble on as much as you like about nonsense but you did not address any of my points. This article was not about Inter, it was about Juventus's sense of privilege. You guys need to get over yourselves. The semi finals will take place whether you like it or not. We would all accept if Buffoon apologised but peoples lives are being threatened. This is not Goodfellsa this is real life.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 12:01pm
The 3 or 4 tweets Oliver's wife got were nasty and totally unacceptable, only an immature imbecile could have sent them.

The penalty decision could have gone either way but thats the whole reason for the emotional outburst isnt it.

Sometimes you just have to say enough is enough. Michael Oliver just didnt portray the nous required for a game of that magnitude.

Any clown can blow the whistle every time there is perceived contact in football it takes a greater level of intelligence than that
on the 16th April, 2018 at 9:35am
Hahaha this hypocrisy dude came outa his cave again. Dude you guys are no where close to being relevant in Italian football. What happened to Inter after 2010 only shows how big of a loser they are. No one is stealing your Europa League spot from you. Relax lol
on the 16th April, 2018 at 9:20am
@Paolo: when you make comments like that, you show the only one who’s not that bright is actually you. Such an icon not only for calcio but for sports fans all around the world, is being called dumb by someone who doesn’t know the difference between show and shove. Get a life bud. Buffon is too big of a character for an armchair coach like you to criticize.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 9:16am
@ the irony

We have eyes, I guess you do as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPBiuz6rbnw
on the 16th April, 2018 at 9:10am
I was very impressed with what Del Piero said though.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 9:07am
The Irony - well said. The hypocrisy of the Juventus fans is unbelievable. Their necks are as tough as Frankie Dettori's nether regions. Let it go, as with most issues relating to Juventus, the whole reaction gives a great insight into the Italian 'psyche'.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 9:02am
@ Paolo

Talking about high school diplomas and not being bright when you can't even type properly.

The irony, man, the irony.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 8:59am
I don't think you really care about Buffon's reputation. It is more towards your incompetent compatriot's reputation who did not deserved to become officials for this match. No wonder there are no English officials for coming World Cup.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 8:38am
After Juve's 3-2 victory over Roma in 2014 in which they received 2 spotkicks for fouls made outside of the area, Buffon said refering to the complaints from Roma: "winners find a way, losers and the mediocre ones find excuses."

Live by the sword, die by the sword, Luigi.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 8:25am
"Buffon must see that his comments were the catalyst for the events that followed."

"What he should apologise for are his choice of words and - most importantly - the ramifications that they caused for Oliver on a human level. "

No, just no.

Those ramifications are by Oliver's own doing and are a byproduct of being a referee on the big stage. He would have been subjected to all of that regardless of Buffon's comments.

How many refs have received threats over the years only because of what they did on the field (whether right or wrong), regardless of the comments of any player? I'll tell you, many.


"What he should apologise for are his choice of words "

"Though the goalkeeper admitted he would have used 'different words' to criticise Oliver"

So you want a second apology?

Why? just so the media would stop howling? when did the media ever stop howling?

When Buffon says "I am Gigi Buffon" he means that those were his own true feelings that he expressed.

Let's just move on.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 8:23am
And btw lets be honest. Most italians know the mans not that bright. He still speak like a teenager when hes 40. No wonder he faked his high school diploma.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 7:48am
He reacted that way because hes not used to referees whistling 50/50 penalties against Juve. He felt intitled to react like a buffone afterwards and was surprised when the ref shoved him the red card. He is living in another footbal world.

Hes lucky in a way that Szecny didt save the penalty as extratime with 10 men would have made it even more clear how stupid his reaction was.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 7:45am
Richard, by saying that in your opinion the PK was correct automatically tells that you are bias. Please FI we are tired of reading too many anti-juve blogs. If you guys dont have something better to write about, then let us be. Now, Buffon should NOT and will NOT apologise because he did the right thing both at the moment and after the game.
I challenge you Richard to act differently whenever similar thing happen to you in life not necessarily in sport.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 6:51am
Last year's Barca-PSG, and RM-Bayern are obvious examples of this favoritism in UEFA. This year Roma have been punished with bad referring as well. It definitely looks like a strong pattern to suggest Spanish clubs (Barca and RM) have been helped in recent years - almost a decade. Football is like any other business and all they care about is TV broadcast and merchandise sales.
Good for Buffon for not apologizing. (P2/2)
on the 16th April, 2018 at 5:42am
CR7's sponsors make too much money to not pull strings to keep him in the CL. RM were outplayed and outclassed. They made 2 changes at half time while Juve still left with 2 more for extra time. Juve were firing on all cylinders and most likely would have pushed and scored in the extra time. They were robbed with a soft ridiculous penalty and had every right to protest it. There is clearly a biased pattern in refereeing games in favour of Spanish clubs.(P1/2)
on the 16th April, 2018 at 5:38am
I disagree with you 100%. He did nothing wrong and if anything his reputation has been enhanced by challenging a terrible decision.

I can only assume you are not Italian, know nothing about our football and are probably an Inter fan.

Please stop writing such atrocious articles.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 5:04am
This article should be named "the unpopular opinion" because it going to get a lot of flack....
on the 16th April, 2018 at 4:55am
I bet if the roles were reversed you would have a different opinion. If it were Manchester United, Liverpool or any other EPL club at the receiving end of such a travesty, and with an Italian referee, all hell would have broke loose in England.
So please, save us your pathetic words and stop blaming the victim here.
Buffon was the victim of an absolutely horrendous decision, and how can you keep your cool in a moment like this, last second of a monumental comeback, and last ever UCL game???
on the 16th April, 2018 at 4:28am
The writer is just spewing his biased opinion from the comfort of his couch. He is defending his countryman referee for a dubious decision at best. It was a 50-50 incident and at the death, so an experienced referee would have waved play on. This referee was headbutted by Joe Heart.
If you take your biased glasses for a moment, and stand in Buffons's shoes, you would understand the immensity of that moment.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 4:25am
No, its about time someone has said something. enough is enough. Buffon has long been the most diplomatic and honourable man in the sport. If he feels hard done by he is correct. Italian teams have been ravished by UEFA officials in these knockouts alone. This is nothing new but its gone beyond a joke. There is not enough characters in this field to enforce my point but I, like everyone else, is sick of being governed by a set of rules for italian teams and a set of rules for the spanish.
on the 16th April, 2018 at 4:07am

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