Should domestic leagues have foreign referees?
When Pierluigi Collina reached the Italian referee retirement age a few years back, there was talk of bringing him to England so he could officiate a bit longer and boost the standard.
The idea of the bald great going eyeball to eyeball with Wayne Rooney and John Terry appealed to many, but it never came close to happening, not least because the world’s best official became the Italian referees’ chief.
Now the boot is on the other foot, and it is the Italians who are crying out for foreign referees to come to Serie A. Several officials were either struck off or put off during the 2006 match-fixing scandal, which involved some teams procuring favourable referees.
AC Milan chief Adriano Galliani and Juventus chairman Giovanni Cobolli Gigli say Italy’s current crop of referees are therefore too inexperienced and make too many errors. They think the league should draft in foreign officials to reduce the number of controversial decisions seen this season. Some Italians, haunted by the match-fixing affair, would like to have foreign referees full stop so that any accusation of an official being a ‘homer’ could be dismissed.
Could this plan work in the whole of Europe? We have impartial referess for international and European club matches so why not in league games?
English fans complain it is nearly impossible for away teams to get a penalty at Old Trafford in the Premier League but several have been awarded against Manchester United in the Champions League.
Collina has rejected the idea, saying Italian referees remain some of the best in the world. For once he is being ignored and Wednesday’s Gazzetta dello Sport listed Germany’s Herbert Fandel and England’s Howard Webb among a list of top officials it would like to see in Italy.
However, this begs the question: which poor country would take the Italian referees?
Mark Meadows, Milan
PHOTO: Pierluigi Collina glares at former Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman as he books him during a Champions League match with Barcelona, March 8, 2005 REUTERS/Mike Finn-Kelcey