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15th Apr 2018

Gigi Buffon refuses to apologise for Michael Oliver comments in latest rant

"I'd say it all again"

Reuben Pinder

“I’d say it all again”

The second leg of Juventus’ Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid ended in heartbreak for Gianluigi Buffon. The Juve captain was dismissed by referee Michael Oliver for his abusive overreaction to his decision to award Real Madrid a penalty in the final moments of the game.

Really, Buffon can have no complaints about the decision; it was a foul, and regardless of the occasion, regardless of whether this would be Buffon’s final game in the competition, referees cannot be swayed by sentiment and romance. Oliver handled the situation pretty perfectly, but that didn’t stop the Italian goalkeeper unleashing a scathing attack on the referee, accusing him of having a rubbish bin for a heart.

Buffon’s post-match comments inflamed the situation to the point where Michael Oliver’s wife was receiving death threats on Twitter from aggrieved Juventus fans, but the ‘keeper has shown no inclination to apologise, standing by his comments.

“I had to let that out, even if it damaged my reputation”, the goalkeeper told Le Iene television programme.

“I don’t have to make up for anything, because I am a human being who puts passion, sentiment and anger into what I do.”

Buffon is a famously passionate footballer, and occasionally that passion spills over. He admitted to possibly being “excessive”, but defended his actions.

“You find a way to speak, right or wrong, that at times can seem excessive… but this is me, I am Gigi Buffon. The other night the game had finished an hour and a half ago, so consequently what one expresses at that moment are sentiments and thoughts that are strong, in certain respects raw, but the sentiments 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.

“Right there, you cannot ask a man who lives sport as deeply as I do to be balanced, because even if I expressed these feelings in an exaggerated way, they were still logical thoughts. 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”, he continued.

“Even if I was excessive, I said what I thought, that he should not have given that penalty. A referee with more experience would not have blown his whistle and decided not to become the protagonist of the match. He would’ve left it running, turned around and let the two teams fight it out in extra time. Let the pitch do the talking.”

Again, a lot of us neutrals wanted to see the game go to extra time, but had Oliver not given the penalty, there would likely have been just as much outrage coming from the Madrid camp, and justifiably so.

Buffon highlighted Oliver’s age as a reason for him not to be tasked with officiating such big matches.

“I’m sure Oliver will have a great career in future, but he’s too young to officiate a match like that. The beauty, the imponderable nature of football, means that unfortunately this young man found himself in a situation that was too complex, too garbled and too big for him to deal with.

“So at the end of the day, what I said after the match, I don’t hold any rancour towards Oliver. I’m not even angry with him. It all ended there, but naturally in the heat of the moment one does feel I’m not saying penalised… I felt defrauded. Not defrauded of the result, but of the night. It was a night that can never be repeated.”