Monday October 29 2012
Suspicious minds in Week 9

It was a weekend where referees took centre stage in Serie A and Italy’s culture of suspicion again diluted calcio. Giancarlo Rinaldi writes.

It sometimes feels like Italian football is trapped in a vicious circle from which it can never escape. Every mistake by a match official stokes the fires of conspiracy theorists everywhere. This weekend the flames were licking up to the very top of the table.

If you hadn’t been watching Serie A for a while you might think it all started with the Calciopoli scandal. But this game of bitter recrimination over who enjoys most favours from the men in black has been going on for decades. And, ultimately, it is hard for anyone to emerge as a winner.

As so often happens, it was Juventus in the eye of the storm. Even as you read this, their lunchtime clash at Catania has probably still not been fully digested by home President Antonino Pulvirenti. His post-match opinions were spat out like machine-gun fire.

“Bergessio’s goal was disallowed by the Juve bench, the linesman had given it,” he raged. “There are seven referees out there and none of them saw anything. This is more than just psychological subservience. It is the third time this has happened to us after Parma and Inter. You saw what happened, we had a good goal disallowed and Juve got one which should have been ruled out.”

He concluded, when asked what the club could do about it, with a colourful response too crude to repeat. Suffice to say he felt powerless to do anything to address the injustices which television replays confirmed his team had suffered. The Turin giants do not take such criticisms lying down.

“We dominated the game – 11 shots to one – and Andujar was Man of the Match, I think that speaks volumes,” retorted stand-in Bianconero boss Angelo Alessio. “There was only one team making the play, Juventus, while Catania tried only to defend.”

That kind of tit-for-tat poison has been the bread-and-butter of the Italian game over the years, unfortunately. The insinuation is often that, at best, referees subconsciously favour the most wealthy, powerful and best-supported teams in the League. At worst, it bubbles over into talk of conspiracy and corruption.

And things only got worse when Lazio, a team hanging on to Juve’s coat-tails, were the victims of similar errors in Florence. Outplayed in the first half, they had a good goal disallowed, a strong shout for a penalty rejected and two men sent off. In the circumstances, boss Vlad Petkovic showed admirable and impeccable restraint. If only more would follow his example.

“We should not diminish the merits of our opponents, Fiorentina played good football,” he said. “They played to win – but without these incidents they would have deserved it even more.”

It is an attitude which really needs to extend throughout Serie A. Instead, Torino were at it as well, complaining about the red card which played a big part in swinging their clash with Parma in their opponents’ favour. The subtext is that they expect to get better treatment from match officials next week.

The problem with this approach is that it is a dead-end from which there is no escape. Either you accept that referees make mistakes in good faith or you believe they are the result of something much more sinister. But if the latter is the case, is there really any point in watching games or being involved in the sport at all?

There is, however, a wider debate to be had about the quality of officiating from some individuals. There remains a group of card and whistle-happy referees who have made inconsistency a hallmark of their performances. Those kind of displays simply infuriate everyone involved in the game and give fuel to those who believe malign forces are at work.

But a quick look north should confirm that poor officiating is not the preserve of Italy. The English Premiership saw Liverpool denied a perfectly good winner in the Merseyside derby while Manchester United had an offside goal stand to clinch a big match victory over Chelsea. There was outrage and anger, yes, but there is unlikely to be all the insinuation and innuendo that would have accompanied such decisions in Serie A.

The recriminations did not stop in the Sunday evening fixtures. Roma somehow contrived to throw away a two-goal lead against Udinese and suffered the humiliation of Toto Di Natale producing a Francesco Totti-like ‘cucchiaio’ penalty to clinch a comeback win. That the spot-kick was soft, and apparently awarded by the touchline official, only made it hurt the more.

At the San Paolo – with fans wearing face-masks to protest against racism against Neapolitans – it was Chievo who felt aggrieved. They claimed a penalty kick should have been awarded when Sergio Pellissier was held back in the box, but it looked a somewhat optimistic claim. The home side were worth their morale-boosting win which keeps them in the Scudetto hunt.

There was less controversy but just as much relief in Milan’s win over Genoa. It was Stephan El Shaarawy, almost inevitably, who clinched the victory which gave the Rossoneri and their under-fire boss Max Allegri a little breathing space. However, it could yet all run out in the next few days.

The result of all this whiff of suspicion of subterfuge has been to create a climate that calcio could well have lived without. Saturday night, after a midweek round of matches, will see the Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter. It is a fixture which already carries more baggage than a family trying to dodge Ryanair suitcase charges. Every incident will be put under the microscope and dissected in excruciating detail. On current form, don’t expect the dust to die down on that one until much before Christmas.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
I wish the idiots and morons would enlighten me. Does Juve CHEAT every year or only in Scudetto years? When we were in 7th place I didn't hear any accusations. If it's not every year, then who decides to make it a CHEATING year? Do they consult Moggi? If it is every year, then we CHEAT like Inter? you know, CHEAT all the time and still finish in 7th, 10th, maybe 11th place?
on the 30th October, 2012 at 11:21pm
Milan fans need to only worry about beating Palermo. What Conte did or did not do while coaching Siena in Serie B in 2010 has no relationship to Milan being relegated to Serie B in 2013.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 8:59pm

You poor deluded Milan fan. Are you seriously saying that if Muntari's goal had stood there would a complete role reversal. After that game we drew 3 in a row and were 7 points behind Milan, we then won 10 out of 11 and Milan fell apart. You couldn't handle the pressure we applied and we proved we were the best TEAM. It's clear that without Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic you are a very mediocre team. But I must say a great big thank you to all at Milan...thank you for Andrea Pirlo.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 7:46pm
@ Dzemeruk

Get your facts straight before throwing your inaccurate poison at Antonio Conte. He is not banned for cheating. He was original banned because he had knowledge of match fixing, but didn't report it. The only testimony of this alleged crime, came from a man who had already been found guilty of match-fixing and didn't mention Conte's name until be was bang to rights and was clearly just trying to limit his own punishment. If Conte was guilty, why was his ban slashed for to 4 months?
on the 30th October, 2012 at 7:30pm
Juve's coach is CURRENTLY BANNED FOR CHEATING. i think that pretty much covers it.

if about the game, saying that Juve dominated is just wrong and didnt win because of the refs is sill. if the only goal you score is offside, then you do not really deserve to win. and saying catania's goal woundnt have changed the game is plain dumb (was that marotta?). its not like juve won 4-0
on the 30th October, 2012 at 6:25pm
To all you Juve haters, even with technology added to the game you would still find ways to drag Juve into some kind conspiracy, but to put your minds at ease look at the statistics in fact there is a website that does the research on each Italian club and how many favorable calls they got, tell me if you find Juventus at the top. Some of you are seriously demented with your theories. 
on the 30th October, 2012 at 4:16pm
Roma should be awarded 3 points because of the udinese game. Pathetic serie A
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:56pm
888, What exactly did Juve get 'caught' doing? Obviously your another who talks rubbish without knowing the facts! I remember Inter getting offside goals, penalties, and all sorts of crazy decisions on there way to a Scudetto treble a few years back under Mancini then Mourinho. Milan won the League with a RECORD BREAKING penalties awarded to them! Abate was offside for Milan's 'Goal' against Genoa and Milan's President has just gone to jail for a Year.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 1:52pm
Juve fans can carry on claiming that these are nothing more than bad ref decisions blah blah blah BUT the reality is that when the same team seems to always be BENEFITING from outrages refereeing decisions over and over again!! Then its no coincidence! Sorry to say!

When juve are caught again I hope for the good of football that they are relegated to the lowest football league in Italy if not banned for good!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 1:11pm
That forza milan comment is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard any milan fan say, u lost to more than just Juve, and we had a goal disallowed to, we wiped the floor with the bigger teams through determination good football and skill.. Look at the table again mate ur just about surviving relegation and juve reinforced properly for another season, while u lot can't help but watch ur "star player" pazzini get out shown by a kid! Who's carrying the team!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 11:31am
If Muntari's goal was NOT disallowed then this wouldn't happen. Because juBe would have lost many games including this one this season, would be in bottom of table, and Milan would be on the top. And of course, Milan would have won Scudetto last season. Forza Milan!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 10:15am
If only more would follow his example.
Really why should they? So that other top teams continue forcing referees into false decisions.
I am against referee decisions of all kinds. Whether it is a conspiracy or not I really do not care. Screw referees and bring technology and not only goal line technology.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 10:04am
Juve should have been banned from football 6 years ago. They got away with a slap on the wrists and now they are back to their good old habits.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 9:26am
The big teams do get favouritism from the referees in Italy and it's a shame. The smaller clubs know that they aren't as skilled as the big three so they don't need to refs to look down on them too.

Having said that, Italian referees need to be more courageous. For the linesman to disallow the Catania goal means that anyone from a big club can intimidate him. He is a coward for not standing up to the Juve subs.

Refs give big teams the benefit of the doubt in Italy but it's different in the CL
on the 30th October, 2012 at 9:07am
I think in Italy we are back to square one with JUVE
getting help from referees especially when refs see them struggling, yellow/red cards and dishonest decisions always in their favour. Confirmation of this is JUVE in Europe were they are terrible as ofcourse the refs are not biased.

The same goes for MAN. UTD in UK. Some big and powerful hand is definately behind these teams, which
is a disgrace to football.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 9:03am
Some people may forget that Juventus were dragged through the courts by the FIGC and payed the price, while others a slap on wrist and a few point deductions.No doubt that there are a few bad apples when it comes to any sport but in life everyone has a bad day at the office and make mistakes.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 8:26am
Milans goal against Genoa was offside also. Why not discuss that? Or any other decision in their favour?
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:49am
Why is it that Juventus always get dragged over the coals every time they are involved in controversy over decisions by sub-standard officials. This happens in every league, every single week and there is never any mention of corruption. But as soon as bad calls benefit Juventus all Hell breaks loose. On Sunday Liverpool scored a winning goal that was onside, but was disallowed and Manchester United scored an offside winning goal that was allowed to stand. It happens and it will always happen.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:11am
Conspiracy theorists have a very selective memory. One of the reasons I place their rants down to envy. Anyway, does anyone remember Milan in the early 90s? Or Inter from 2006-2010?

If so then you'll remember the many theories that those 2 teams were getting favours left, right and centre. Every week it seemed there'd be some case of 'favouritism'. It seems that when a team dominates the envious supporters of the also-rans start howling 'Conspiracy!' whenever possible.

It's very sad.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 11:31pm
There is no conspiracy. There are facts. Calciopoli was a fact. But Moggi was at the club since 1994. During that time Juventus 5 Scudetti and only 2 were revoked. Conte is currently banned but for some unknown reason continues to only have a touchline ban as if he was telling off referees and not involved in a betting scandals. Where the above so called "conspiracies" have turned out to be true we now have familiar decisions once again going Juventus' way.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 10:13pm
I wish Serie A would adopt some sort of video evidence. I am sick and tired of all the bickering and moaning.

As a Juventino I have to admit that the decision to disallow the Catania goal was perplexing, and that we had quite a bit of luck recently with refs. However, there's no favoritism or conspiracy at the root of it, it's simply bad refereeing.

Frankly, it's no wonder that good Serie A refs are few and in between. With all the negative attention, who in their right mind would want the job
on the 29th October, 2012 at 9:59pm
LOL I cant believe my eyes! Football-Italia are writing off Juve? hahaha, what`s next? writing off Milan? but what took you so long? as anonymous highlighted up there Juve have been the most beneficial team from refs mistakes since day one, since Napoli supercup game. maybe if it was Inter you`d have started early. I bet ;)
on the 29th October, 2012 at 9:24pm
@ Maxi

You clearly are living in a fantasy universe that Inter fans seem to inhabit. You call Juventus corrupt,when your club not only got away with one of the biggest corruptions ever, but benefited massively from it. The new Calcopoli evidence shows that Juventus were guilty of nothing more than unsporting behaviour, whilst your lot were guilty of sporting fraud. Because the evidence was buried till in was inadmissible is the only reason you are not playing in C2. You are all pathetic.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 8:41pm
No mention of Catania stopping Vucinic's through ball in the penalty area with an outstretched hand late in the First Half? Catania's defender looked like an NBA player dribbling a ball. Clear penalty not awarded in Juve's favor and you only want to talk about Juve being thieves. It's because you are retarded. Haters, keep on hating. We enjoy your misery, but hate to see refereeing errors at any level.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 8:18pm
It is happening to often to be random and unattended. Yes, there are decisions in favour of Inter, Milan, Fiorentina bla bla, but if we take a look at statistics, there is always "little help" when Juve struggling a lot. In this way, they will reach one hundred games unbeaten.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 7:54pm

If Muntari's goal was allowed;

1. Milan would've won the scudetto last year
2. Milan would've won the derby instead lost to Inter
3. Milan would be on rank 1 by now
4. Milan would win vs Malaga and win UCL 2012-2013
5. Milan wouldn't have 10 points they should already locking the scudetto 2012-2013

If Matri's goal was allowed;

1. Juventus still won the scudetto & Super coppa
2. Milan still only have 10 points
on the 29th October, 2012 at 7:54pm

Without the statute of limitations you would be still in serie B by now, now who's the most corrupt team in the world?
on the 29th October, 2012 at 7:45pm
Yes we're benefiting from favourable calls again. After the 2 previous witch-hunts against us (Calciopoli & calcioscomesse) where the FIGC flagrantly tried to destroy us, I could care less what people think of us. We're #1, we're man-handling our opposition week in & week out, we're getting favourable calls even though we don't need them. All is well in the world again and all you jealous anti-Bianconeri can kiss our collective arses.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 7:40pm
People need to get lives, juventus are not cheating. It's bad decisions by the refes. I think the only way people are going to stop claiming juventus are cheating is when touch line technologically come in, and you know what we will still win because we are the best team in ITALY!!! FORZA JUVE!!!
on the 29th October, 2012 at 7:28pm
Incredibly there are some Juventus fans out there thinking they deserved this last victory. They probably didnt even watch the game! Cheats cheats cheats! Once in a while every team has ups and downs but they balance out....but not Juventus. Kick them out of Serie A and everybody but them will be happy!
on the 29th October, 2012 at 7:26pm

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