Saturday February 15 2020
ADL: 'Napoli could sue referees'

Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis won’t rule out suing referees and the FIGC for damages in future. “An official who won’t view VAR is committing a sporting crime.”

The patron spoke to the Corriere dello Sport after a series of controversial incidents in recent weeks, which prompted the Italian authorities to suggest introducing a VAR challenge, similar to in tennis, where coaches are allowed to request limited on-field reviews.

“The challenge is the very least they could do and is probably already too late,” said De Laurentiis.

“I think two challenges per game, one in each half, would suffice. The coaches have the right to demand verification in the most dubious cases and can also step in front of the monitor with the referee to get a clear explanation for the decision that has been made. That is a sacrosanct right of the coach.”

Napoli were involved in a very controversial incident during the 3-2 defeat to Lecce, when the referee booked Arkadiusz Milik for simulation, then seemingly refused to view it again despite prompting from the VAR booth, as his ankle had been caught.

“I always maintained that any system of assistance that is intermittent or optional is inconceivable. It must be obligatory. If a referee, either through incompetence or arrogance, does not use VAR, he is committing a sporting crime, because he compromises the result.

“Football is not just a game. It is also an industry that produces very significant economic results.”

It is with that in mind that De Laurentiis proposes suing referees or the football authorities for damages.

“Why not? The principle of ‘you pay for mistakes’ aids all democratic processes and football is no different. If a judge emits the wrong sentence, he can be called to repay damages. Should a referee not be held to the same rules?

“Napoli have been denied numerous penalties this season. It’s not just me saying that, but recognised throughout the media. If this chain reaction of errors should turn into a financial loss of €200m, who would pay us back for that?”

A club suing a referee for damages is unheard of and would almost certainly be thrown out of court, but De Laurentiis has thought of another path.

“I think top level lawyers would enjoy taking this on. Never say never. Plus, if five, six or seven clubs who were damaged by serious refereeing errors were to decide to stop the Serie A season?

“It would perhaps be traumatic, but still an efficient way of breaking the back of this laissez-faire attitude and carelessness.”

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