I didn’t think I would be too bothered. Sure, I had read a lot of angry comments from Romanisti about the refereeing display, but I thought it was probably just the usual sort of bleating you get after a loss. I suspected the penalty calls would probably be a bit debateable but surely they must have been at least somewhere close to plausibly correct.
Then I watched Juventus vs Roma. And let me tell you…
I’m not usually one for histrionics. I always pride myself in seeing the best in people – especially referees who I know have a very tough job at the best of times. But picture this: Where you are right this very moment is the exact location of ‘plausibly correct’. Now imagine how far away the edge of the known universe might be from your current position. Aproximately. Doesn’t have to be exact. Round it up to the nearest billion light-years.
Now triple it.
That’s how close to ‘plausibly correct’ Juventus’s two penalties were in that game.
Dodgy penalties to Juventus are nothing new of course. They were the reason for the ‘calciopoli’ scandal in 2006 when Juventus officials were caught bribing referees and as a consequence had two titles stripped from the club. It was a bad omen when the first thing I saw on my computer screen when I started watching Sunday’s game was a banner at Juventus Stadium that read “32 scudetti” – 32 titles (including the two that were stripped). They have never changed and never will.
What followed only served to underline this point. A hand ball just outside the penalty area was initially waved away by referee Gianluca Rocchi, until under intense pressure from the Juve players surrounding him he changed his mind and pointed to the spot. Then, at the stroke of half time, a blatant dive that also clearly occurred outside the penalty area was bizarrely awarded as a “rigore per la Juve”.
“Rigore per la Juve” is Italian for “penalty to Juventus”.
Of course, one option is to be angry. Another might be to simply harden the f**k up. But actually, call me Pollyanna, but I like to see the funny side of things like this. So I’ve decided to embrace the humour of the situation. Following on from some Italian memes along these lines that have been doing the rounds on the internet this week, I have made a few of my own. For therapeutic reasons…
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.