In the aftermath of the Derby Della Madonnina the one thing which stuck out more than Inter’s character was the abysmal refereeing of Gianluca Rocchi. Rocchi’s decision to send off Wesley Sneijder left everyone inside the Giuseppe Meazza aghast with disbelief. It was not just the harshness of the decision but the manner of Rocchi’s conduct that left the Nerazzurri feeling hard done by. Giuseppe Favalli’s foul on Maicon which eventually led to the goal was equally questionable as the veteran defender was already on a booking and should have ideally seen a second yellow. At the end of the game, the penalty awarded to Milan and Lucio’s subsequent sending off was a 50-50 call but Rocchi didn’t hesitate in the least bit to point to the spot.
There were several questions raised about Rocchi’s performance from all quarters and the Nerazzurri management left no stone unturned in making their disappointment known. Jose Mourinho declared in the post match conference that “they won’t let us win the championship”. Inter owner, Massimo Moratti was also none too impressed by the refereeing standards in the game he was quoted as saying: “I saw some bad signs, and they made it very clear to see”. Inter MD Ernesto Paolillo who was critical of the rescheduling of Milan’s Coppa Italia game against Udinese also felt that something needed to be done, “For the good of Italian football, it’s good to talk about it when there are some strange situations and too many episodes”.
The point made by Paolillo should be the one given most consideration by the league officials in this scenario. The Italian championship’s image took a huge hit following the Calciopoli scandal and it would be very naïve for the authorities to turn a blind eye to the events of Sunday night. There may not have been any conspiracy at play but there was definitely something amiss with Rocchi and note should be made of this. The last time Rocchi was in charge of an Inter game was during the Inter-Roma tie in early November. Mourinho was critical of his performance even then and had claimed that Rocchi was the ‘third team on the pitch intent on blowing his whistle every now and then’. Whether it was these comments that irked Rocchi and hence led to his vendetta-like performance yesterday is a question only he can answer.
It is clear that till the shadow of Calciopoli hangs over the league every referee will face more criticism and have more doubts cast about him than would be justified. But maybe keeping this is mind the league authorities can themselves look at raising the bar for the refs. The Premier League is not free from refereeing errors but the fitness standards needed to referee a game in England are a lot tighter than that in Italy. Pierluigi Collina who was widely regarded as the world’s best referee is currently a consultant to the Italian Football Referees Association. The authorities must do more to incorporate checks and systems which seek to ensure the best quality of referees throughout the league at all levels. If the current scenario continues it will only do more damage to the image of the Italian game and that is certainly not needed at this juncture.