Referees’ Alarm: Nervousness and Evident Errors

Yesterday, designator Rocchi admitted the existence of eight errors committed by the AIA in the first part of the football season. These errors, acknowledged by the referees themselves, had a significant impact on the match results. Specifically, Juventus was penalized against Sassuolo and Genoa, with non-granted expulsions for Berardi and Malinovskyj, as recognized by the referees.

Simultaneously, Inter, currently leading the standings, benefited from the failure to annul two goals against Genoa and Verona. However, it should be emphasized that we are only discussing errors “acknowledged” by the AIA, while the on-field reality could reveal even more numerous oversights.

What becomes clear is the evident nervousness within the referee community. This is a cause for concern, as an adjudicating body, third in authority compared to the contenders, is expected to maintain impartiality and composure in its decisions. Conversely, it appears that pressure is significantly affecting the referees’ performance.

The issue worsens when considering the handling of yellow cards, a matter emphasized by Rocchi’s agitated reaction in demanding respect. The yellow card, now a universal expression even in everyday life, is a warning that the referee can and should use to keep the match within the bounds of fairness and safety for the players, also safeguarding their authority in the face of theatrics or blatant reactions from players on the field.

However, what raises perplexity is the unequal application of this sanction. The team currently leading the standings, even in relation to officially acknowledged errors, is surprisingly the least cautioned in the Italian league. On the other hand, Juventus, officially considered disadvantaged by refereeing errors, is by far the most cautioned team.

And to think that just a few months ago, I wrote an editorial discussing a Juventus team that, for the first time in decades, lacked “PIRATES” on the field! (You can find the full article at this LINK.) Players have been accused from various quarters of being too reserved in protests, not exerting enough pressure on the referee by surrounding him, and not staging threatening actions when a teammate suffers a particularly violent tackle. And thankfully so! The yellow card count for this first half of the season stands at 50 for Juventus in 19 matches, compared to only 24 for Inter.

This raises fundamental questions about the coherence and fairness in sanction management. The fundamental need to demand respect must come from the referees themselves, who must assert their authority on the field consistently and uniformly. The current blatant disparity in treatment is eroding trust in the refereeing system, not only among players and clubs but above all, among the fans.