Wednesday March 1 2017
Napoli: 'Decisions shameful, not ref'

Napoli doubled down on their criticism of public broadcaster Rai after the Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus and insist “the decisions were shameful, not the referee.”

The club was enraged last night following the 3-1 loss in Turin, which saw Paulo Dybala convert two contentious penalties and one not given to the visitors for a challenge on Raul Albiol.

The official club Twitter feed posted a message after the game: “If you watch the game on Rai, turn the sound off.”

Rai protested against the comment, but today director of communications Nicola Lombardo spoke to Radio 24.

“I don’t want to discuss the refereeing incidents in detail, I want to explain why we intervened,” said Lombardo.

“Napoli are overall the club that speaks the least about referees. In five years, we only intervened four times in a direct manner: after the Super Cup in Beijing, another Napoli-Juventus with Rafa Benitez – when Giorgio Chiellini had a sort of turban – with Dnipro and yesterday.

“All other times, as indicated by me and President Aurelio De Laurentiis, we did not comment on refereeing decisions. We believe that the referees are both a very important and very weak link in the football chain: because these are people who do not have fans on their side, are often left on their own and with a difficult job.

“Yesterday, they got it wrong. When we said ‘shameful’ it was in reference to the decisions, not the referee. We intervened because Sky and Mediaset show everything that happens and then comment on it.

“On Rai last night, we did not see everything. On Sky and Mediaset, refereeing incidents are commented on by former referees, pundits and journalists. Yesterday in the Albiol incident was crucial, seeing as it happened just before the pro-Juve penalty, but it was practically never seen.

“If we had not gone to demand this incident in the post-match coverage, Rai would never have shown the replay and nobody would’ve even talked about it.

“The directors do not talk to the commentators, but if they hear the commentator say there is a dubious incident, there should be a replay, right? It’s plausible to think a Rai executive goes to the director to ask for the replay of a dubious incident. They can’t tell us this isn’t true.

“It’s really not a difficult thing to isolate that footage and replay it in slow motion. Instead, none of that happened and the commentator didn’t even ask for a replay.

“In the post-match commentary, it was us with (director of sport Cristiano) Giuntoli who asked to view that footage. Why wasn’t it shown before?

“Aside from all that, we received many comments on the fact the Rai commentary was not of a high level. We were told this by people of a high level, not simple fans. If we add the lack of the replay, I think a simple tweet of protest aimed at a public broadcasting company paid for with everyone’s money is acceptable.

“In any case, aside from the refereeing incidents that went against us, we have an enormous respect for the job of the referee. For now we prefer to continue the Press silence. Clearly sooner or later it will end.”

It has to soon, as Napoli are contractually obliged by UEFA to give a Press conference ahead of and after the Champions League match with Real Madrid next Tuesday.

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