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.

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with

Have your say...
Inter are scum!!
on the 29th October, 2012 at 7:10pm
shut up maxi
on the 29th October, 2012 at 6:42pm
Funny how every time it happens to Juventus people begin to become paranoid. Whe it happens to Inter, Milan, Manchester, Madrid or Bayern nobody sees ghost...
on the 29th October, 2012 at 6:26pm
That was a really well written article. Just about sums up my feelings regarding refereeing errors and the teams directly or indirectly affected by them.

Selective memory is a common side-effect with football fans. Many are so passionate over their owns team and rival teams fortunes and misfortunes that they tend to spew whatever ill-thought conspiracy theories.

This is particularly prevalent with fans of Calcio. No matter Italian or not.

Crying shame really.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 6:12pm
Here is a solution. How about Serie A refs take this week off, and bring referees from another league/ swap them. Then we will see if there is cheating, or Juve getting the benefit. Yes i am a Juve fan and do sometimes wonder.. Every team in this league cheated/s, like Inter,but Juve are the ones ppl hate..
on the 29th October, 2012 at 6:10pm
You know, there will come a point in time where I will just accept all these accusations while not a single piece of solid evidence that prove beyond reasonable doubt that Juventus are indeed, cheating. Fine, hate us, call us whatever makes you fall asleep at night, your words mean nothing anymore. You are entitled to your own opinions regardless of how wrong it is. With that being said, Forza Juve! Screw the haters and let them munch their own sour grapes.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 6:10pm
This article is a make-up for juventus, while they seal another scudetto
on the 29th October, 2012 at 5:48pm
Anonymous: with your list you are merely adding to this farce. If you want any recognition then list ALL of the refereeing errors and then we can decide whether there is a controversy. Errors for and against every team please. And do add a section on player conduct. Just one instance of a Juve player behaving as badly on the pitch as Spolli. He punched Pogba, had an arm against Bentdner's throat and was booked for dissent. Fuelling the controversy just condones this type of barbarianism.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 5:45pm
@Juventini I think the problem that people have with Juve isn't the fact they they are a big team or that they don't want to see them win more than any other footballing rivalry, I think its got more to do with the history of cheating. Cheating appears to be in their (your) DNA and it is something only time and good behaviour will cure. Unfortunately, incidents such as those this weekend do nothing to help your cause.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 5:35pm
To all the Juve backers (and I do not dislike Juve..I am a fan of Serie A..not a particular team) all MUST understand that way too many blatant decisions and calls are consistently for Juve. yes it happens to all big teams in sports where they get the more favourable calls..its the nature of sports..HOWEVER..with the decades of bad calls such as Calciopoli or the 1982 Scudetto steal from Fiorentina and the infinite calls in hundreds of games throughout the decades it cant b coincidence!
on the 29th October, 2012 at 5:08pm
@Massi Federici! Hernanes was clumsy and didn't deserve a red? looking thru rose tinted glasses are we? he jumped in two footed. isn't that enough to get a second yellow? He would have been sent off by any referee. Mauri's goal should have been allowed as he wasn't offside but that decision was made by the linesman. Fiorentina fully deserved the win though however. Don't act like a sour loser just for the sake of it.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 5:02pm
Oh the hypocrisy on this blog. The level is very high! When the referee calls goes in your favor, "oh! i'm sorry. it's ok, the referee is a human being". When it is in Juve favour you are crieng for Apocalipse, Conspiracies, and all this baby-tales... Oh! your liver, it must be exploding now. There are many hipocrites but you guys, are the most frustrated ones. Learn to lose!
on the 29th October, 2012 at 4:43pm
Take care of your own teams! Firstly learn your's team how to play, and then search controversial situations. Yes, it was referee's mistake, but it was happened in 20-minute, not 90. Juve played better, and should have won even if the losing
on the 29th October, 2012 at 4:08pm
I'm an azzuri fan , I love seria A , but have to say what happened yesterday in the juve and lazio match was disgusting , the old lady don't need all this favour from the ref , they r the best team in italy but the liceman was useless and spoiled the game , what a game we could have watched if juve were 1 0 down , personaly maybe I would have liked juve to lose just punishement for the bad display in the CPL , wake up juve and milan in EUROPE !!!
on the 29th October, 2012 at 3:11pm
I'm an azzuri fan , I love seria A , but have to say what happened yesterday in the juve and lazio match was disgusting , the old lady don't need all this favour from the ref , they r the best team in italy but the liceman was useless and spoiled the game , what a game we could have watched if juve were 1 0 down , personaly maybe I would have liked juve to lose just punishement for the bad display in the CPL , wake up juve and milan in EUROPE !!!
on the 29th October, 2012 at 3:08pm
It was Agnelli who shot JFK, Juve were also behind the 9/11 bombings in New York in 2001. Iraq invading Kuwait only happened because Juventus bosses told Saddam to invade. Bird Flu was created from a Ex Juve player. Mad cow disease? Also Juve directors were behind this. I also heard that Juve were behind 2Pac's murder. The X Factor results were fixed by Pavel Nedved and Juve as well for that matter.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 2:50pm
Where were the referees to help Juve when Juve were fighting for 7th place...Where are you blind fans that look into others house because of fear of JUVE. Inter ? Last week - Penalty not whistled for Catania. Saturday - Milan scored a goal from offside. I do not want to go into other weeks/years because your all blind and wouldnt see the favorable calls made on your teams behalves. With this mentality Serie A will remain down !
on the 29th October, 2012 at 2:25pm
Italy is still paying for Calciopoli.

a whole generation of Officials were removed from arbitration, leaving nothing but the worst Serie B and lower officials to step into their place.

The problem with that is the FIGC hasn't done anything to train these sub par refs into being world class because they refuse to admit there's a problem.

In reality, UEFA should step in and create a template for all leagues as to how games should be officiated to create parity across the region.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 2:06pm
Forza Juventus.

This is how you know Juve is back. The world hates us again. Hate to say it people, but either get on the bandwagon or get used to looking up at Juve at the top of the table, we are going to be here for awhile. Enjoy chewing on your conspiracy theories or whatever it is that makes you anti-juve sleep at night. Whatever excuse you guys need. There has never been and never will be a Juve that has cheated, as the courts have all proven already. Accept it, Juve is back.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 1:52pm
What I cannot believe is that the field referee called it a goal and only after going to off field officials did he call it offside. What could that official have seen when the replay clearly showed it was a good goal, that is why Juve is considered a "favored" team, this league is a joke and I am seriously considering not watching anymore.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 1:39pm
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 1:38pm
Maybe Juve and Man u should play in their own European super league. Moggi and Ferguson could take in turns to referee the game and they could cheat each other all season.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 1:31pm
Juve is the most corrupted team in the world.....forza inter
on the 29th October, 2012 at 1:18pm
so funny.. when juve get scudetto again then everybody calls controversy.. when juve in the dark like season 2009/2010 and 2010/2011.. no one give a damn about it.. juve did get lucky from refereeing decision.. but you need to see other teams too.. milan get that too last season.. it's just the same with MU, barca, madrid, but why everybody calls controversy for juve?
I think you are sick to see juve succeed again. just like chelsea fans sicked about being knock out by barca in UCL..
on the 29th October, 2012 at 12:57pm
Bergonzi in the Fiorentina-Lazio match is a criminal. He was the same ref who allowed Udinese's second and decisive goal last season against Lazio when someone from the Udinese bench had blown a whistle and the whole of the Lazio team stopped. Hernanes was clumsy, but never a red, and Ledesma clipped someone in very wet conditions. Bergonzi gave out 5 yellows for the first 5 Lazio fouls, we didn't even pick up 1 in the first 3 games! 
on the 29th October, 2012 at 12:50pm
@ Reality, you are mental and have a selective memory. What about the insane amount of penalties and "offside" goals not given to Juve last year. Juve won the league last season because they were the best side by a mile. It seems to me that you are a Milan fan who has eaten one too many sour grapes since your two man team left you for pastures new, no?
on the 29th October, 2012 at 12:27pm
Funny how easily people forget how last season, Milan got all the favourable calls in the title race, with Juventus being denied over and over again. Yes, except the Muntari goal, that still keeps the Juventus haters awake in their sleep. Even in that match we had a unfair disallowed goal, but nobody mentions that of course, it's fashion to blast Juventus today.

Italy should do something about their refs instead of pointing fingers at teams and players. Refs like this one are a joke!
on the 29th October, 2012 at 12:16pm
Why is it that people that want to create controversy where there is none like to stay Anonymous. I agree that the Refs made mistakes but it wasn't just in favor of Juve. The Catania goal should have been disallowed because of a handling offense rather then the offside. Juve deserved a clear penalty as Pogba got punched & taken out in the penalty area, Catania should have had seen another player sent off as the last man took out Giovinco.
on the 29th October, 2012 at 12:13pm
"Reality", in 2011-12 Juve won the title by 4 points despite throwing 2 points away to Lecce in the 90th minute in week 36. No, Muntari's phantom goal did not decide the title. Milan lost the title when the got destroyed by Inter in Week 37. Inter destroyed Milan twice in fact, and let's not forget Milan's first visit to the Juventus Stadium where I'm thinking Milan's bus got lost because we are still waiting for your boys to show up. What a hammering!
on the 29th October, 2012 at 12:11pm
Catania has been robbed in 3 matches this year, that is true. However, it's not Juve's issue, just as it wasn't Parma's or Inter's were they were beneficiaries at Catania's expense. In Juve's first 4 years back from Serie B, Juve started every match a goal down as refs were terrified to call anything Juve's way. Therefore, you'll have to forgive me if I won't apologize because we benefitted from 2 calls in 6 years (Muntari's goal the other).
on the 29th October, 2012 at 12:06pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.