Here we are, almost a week after the fact, still scratching our heads and trying to work out what on Earth went wrong during Milan-Juventus. Commenting now is like turning up at half-past seven in the morning to a house party. The whole place smells of vodka, the living room is covered in empty bottles, there is vomit all over the stairs – Estigarribia, probably, he’s only small bless him – the upstairs bathroom door has been smashed in – I’m looking at you Mark Van Bommel – and some poor soul has had their head drawn on with permanent marker – Antonio Conte, eh?
Milan versus Juventus was supposed to be a title decider, in February. It would be the game from which the winner would march boldly towards another league title. Instead it was a phoney war, the presenting of arms in the week leading up to it racked up the tension and the shots fired from both sides after the match turned a good game into an irrelevant chain of disgraceful events.
The game was entertaining, but since last Monday morning the Italian press has been fielding the mortars fired over the fence from both sides, and now Italian football is a few broken bottles and a speck of blood away from its own Haye-Chisora: a disgrace.
The situation was ignited by Sulley Muntari’s goal-that-wasn’t. The mistake by the officials led to kicks, punches, knees and ‘elbows’ flying everywhere on the field and some of those actions were punished accordingly. It was he after match pleasantries, though, that produced a vile show of some true colours. Conte was happy to spar, verbally, with both Adriano Galliani and Zvonomir Boban, happy to forget anyone had ever mentioned the words stile Juve (Juventus style) to him.
The two clubs, and sections of their fans, went at each other aggressively denouncing the actions of the opponents while conveniently misplacing the memories of their comrades. Milan released a news item on their website complaining that Andrea Pirlo – a loyal servant of 10 years – had elbowed Van Bommel, when all he’d actually done is run quite close to the rossonero number 4. The whole affair is analogous with Steve Carell as Brick Tamland in cult move Anchorman, shouting his head off with no idea what’s going on.
Fans aren’t happy with that football involves humans anymore. All players must be perfect role models, they should own up to refereeing mistakes even if they don’t know they’re mistakes. Gianluigi Buffon must be in the midst of a gale force wind at the moment, with an entire nation debating his legitimacy as National team captain on his behalf after his honesty in the post-match press conference.
“I have to be honest, it was all moving so quickly that I didn’t realise the ball had crossed the line. Mind you, even if I had realised, I certainly wouldn’t have told the referee!”
How dare he say and act exactly as 99% of humanity would, even Zdenek Zeman went halfway toward defending the mischievous goalkeeper.
Infinitely worse is that the credibility of officials has been on the menu, though, mostly in the form of verbal vomit from tribal ball-aches that call themselves football fans. Paolo Tagliavento has been lambasted for giving a goal before consulting and trusting one of his colleagues, a colleague who, based on countless screen grabs, had a better view of the situation. His ‘bottle’ has been questioned because he used the tools at his disposal.
Sky Italia produced a short feature showing at real-time speed an almost exact view that the assistant referee would’ve had (the video has been eradicated from the internet, presumably to ensure that nobody thinks Murdoch’s company produces decent content as well as ruining football). The video depicted just how marginal a call needed to be made by the assistant (for both Muntari’s goal and Alessandro Matri’s offside). Roberto Romagnoli has been ‘given time to consider his actions’ (read: suspended) by the board of referees. He was punished for being fallible, and for being human.
The last port of call when such mistakes are made should be the officials. The defending team will always, rightly, be given the benefit of the doubt because perhaps the opposite action – a goal being given that isn’t a goal – would be worse?
Galliani and Andrea Agnelli have started apologising to each other for the insults traded but Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini is doubtful they have ever had a bust up, saying “they always collaborate to share the loot [TV Money]”. The damage has been done, though, and even if it hasn’t decided the title outright it will have prepared the excuses. Like Ronaldo’s penalty decision in 1998, we may still be talking about this in 2028.
Thanks a lot, guys.
Follow Rocco on twitter (@rcammisola), he will await your scathing criticism.