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Italy Spotlight: Juventus president calls for removal of UEFA’s Pierluigi Collina

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo argues with Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain during a Champions League quarter final second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Juventus at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (Francisco Seco / Associated Press)
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo argues with Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain during a Champions League quarter final second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Juventus at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (Francisco Seco / Associated Press)
By Andrew Dampf Associated Press

ROME – Juventus is still fuming over the penalty that resulted in its elimination from the Champions League, with club president Andrea Agnelli calling for the removal of UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina.

“The designator should be changed every three or five years,” Agnelli said, suggesting that since Collina is Italian he overcompensates by making “impartial designations” for matches featuring Serie A clubs.

“A designator with that much responsibility should be changed every three years to avoid this presumption, considering his nationality,” Agnelli added.

English referee Michael Oliver called the penalty in the third and final minute of stoppage time, leading to Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal that meant Real Madrid advanced to the semifinals on 4-3 aggregate despite a 3-1 loss in Wednesday’s second leg.

Juventus defender Medhi Benatia was penalized for trying to keep Lucas Vazquez from scoring after Ronaldo headed down a ball back toward the area. Benatia came from behind Vazquez and appeared to push the forward while making a move for the ball.

Agnelli, who is also president of the European Club Association, demanded that UEFA install the video assistant referee (VAR) for the Champions League.

“We’ve got the technology to avoid these mistakes,” Agnelli said. “UEFA isn’t against the VAR, it just has a technical problem that needs to be resolved. If the problem is instructing the referees from all of the federations then let’s take some of them aside and set up a quick course.”

It was a departure from Agnelli’s comments at last month’s ECA congress in Rome.

“We must respect UEFA’s timing on this matter as they have to train the referees to assist the video referees,” Agnelli said then, adding that he was confident the VAR would be introduced for the 2019-20 season.

Collina, who joined UEFA in 2010, is also running FIFA’s program for referees at the World Cup, where the VAR will make its tournament debut. The VAR is also used in Serie A.

UEFA had no comment over Agnelli’s words.

Juventus, it should be remembered, was at the heart of the 2006 “Calciopoli” refereeing scandal, when it was uncovered that the club influenced the Italian league’s referee selectors.

The Turin club was stripped of two Serie A titles due to the scandal and relegated to Serie B.

When the penalty on Benatia was called, Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini started waving his fingers as if he were holding bills of money at Madrid counterpart Raphael Varane, seemingly suggesting that Madrid had paid someone to influence the match.

Meanwhile, Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon, playing in what was likely his last European match, was sent off for vehement protests during which he lightly bumped the referee.

“You can’t be cynical enough to destroy a squad’s dream,” Buffon said. “You can’t try and be the protagonist just because you don’t have the personality to make it on a stage like this one.

“If you don’t have personality stay in the tribune with your wife and eat potato chips. To do this, to ruin an achievement, you must have a garbage bin in place of a heart.”

Juventus also appeared upset that Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was permitted to watch the match from near the sideline despite being suspended.

“The referee didn’t understand anything,” said Agnelli, who was also on the touchline at the final whistle.

The penalty was taken eight minutes into stoppage time as it took Oliver a while to clear the protesting Juventus players.

Agnelli was asked if Oliver, who is 33, was too young to handle such a big match.

“I became president of Juventus at that age,” Agnelli said. “The referee is a quality one but tonight he got confused.”

Buffon, who said he would retire this season unless Juventus won the Champions League, embraced Ronaldo before he left the field.

“Real deserved to advance. I want to complement them,” Buffon said. “It’s always an honor to face them but we also deserved at least to go to extra time.”

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