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FOOTBALL

No regrets for Buffon over referee rant

Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon insists he has no regrets about his outburst against the referee who awarded the late penalty that put Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals.

No regrets for Buffon over referee rant
Photo: AFP

“I'd say them all again. Maybe with a different type of language, one that was more civilised, let's say. But the content remains and I stand by all of it,” Buffon told Italian television programme “Le Iene”.

Buffon was sent off for dissent in the final minute of the quarter-final, second leg in Madrid after confronting English referee Michael Oliver over his decision to award the hosts a penalty in time added-on.

The 40-year-old has come under fire for his post-match rant in which he called Oliver “a murderer” with “a rubbish bin” in place of a heart.

“I have to defend my teammates and fans, even in a not very composed fashion. I had to let that out, even if it damaged my reputation.

“You find a way to speak, right or wrong, that at times can seem excessive, but this is me, I am Gigi Buffon,” he continued.

Buffon said his words were of “a man who won't hide behind a veil of hypocrisy and instead throws out what is bubbling in his guts. End of story.”

And the Italian legend said he still believes that 33-year-old referee Oliver lacked experience.

“A referee with more experience would not have blown his whistle and decided not to become the protagonist of the match. He would have left it running, turned around and let the two teams fight it out in extra time. Let the pitch do the talking.

“I'm sure Oliver will have a great career in future, but he's too young to officiate a match like that.”

READ ALSO: Juventus coach defends captain for calling ref 'a murderer' 

FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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