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14th Apr 2018

Gary Lineker has called on Gianluigi Buffon to do the right thing about Michael Oliver

Listen to the man, Gigi

Robert Redmond

“Understand the emotion but time to defuse it, Gianluigi.”

Gary Lineker has called on Gianluigi Buffon to try to resolve the situation with Michael Olivier, which has become increasingly unpleasant over the last few days. The English referee showed Buffon a red card in the final minute of Wednesday’s Champions League tie between Real Madrid and Juventus at the Bernabeu.

The Italian champions were leading 3-0 on the night and had drawn level in the tie as the match entered stoppage-time. The match looked set to go to extra-time until Oliver awarded a penalty for a push on Lucas Vasquez by Medhi Benatia in the Juventus penalty area. It was the correct decision, but the Juventus players lost all composure and began aggressively protesting the call. Buffon was particularly enraged and was sent-off by Olivier.

Ronaldo buried the subsequent penalty into the top corner and the European champions advanced to the final four of the Champions League, where they will play Bayern Munich.

When speaking to the media following Wednesday’s game, Buffon was still furious about Oliver’s decision to award the penalty and send him off.

“The team gave it’s all but a human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation,” Buffon said about the English referee.

“If you want to be that protagonist, sit in the ground with your wife. The referee has a trash can where his heart should be.”

Buffon is due to retire at the end of the season, and the Champions League is the only major club honour he has never won. The significance of the game, and how Juventus fought back from three goals down, in part explains why he was so angry and emotional. However, it certainly doesn’t justify his actions and one would expect better someone with his experience. Buffon has also always come across as a great sportsperson.

Since Wednesday’s game, the situation has become toxic. Olivier’s wife, who is also a referee, has received abuse on Twitter and death threats. The English referee made the right call on both accounts – by awarding the penalty and showing Buffon a red card – and doesn’t deserve to be vilified. Even if he made the wrong call, Olivier and his family should be left alone – he’s just doing his job.

Lineker has called on Buffon to try “defuse” the situation. The legendary goalkeeper isn’t responsible for the reaction of others to the game, but it’s probably time he admitted he was wrong in how he reacted. His comments on Oliver overstepped the mark and it’s time to draw a line under the situation and accept that Oliver made the right call.