REFEREES AND THE ILLUSION OF OMNISCIENCE
An addendum to the previous post, and a brief one.
Dateline: Saturday, October 27th, 2007. Juventus is playing at Napoli, and chasing league leaders, Inter Milan. A win would put them in sole posession of 2nd place in the league, and a mere 1 point deficit behind the defending champions in the chase for the 2008 Scudetto (which would be overturned by a victory in their first fixture). After trudging through a workman like goaless draw at the interval, Juve get the second period off to a dream start with a goal by Del Piero in the 46th minute. 3 minutes later, Napoli score a well deserved equalizer through Gargano, but the match is still in the balance with 40 minutes left on the clock.
So what happens? Mauro Bergonzi -that's what happens.
Rather than admitting to the masses that he may not be (god-forbid) all-seeing, he calls a spot kick on one of the cleanest penalty area tackles you'll ever see in soccer when Giorgio Chiellini clinically picks the pocket of Ezequiel Lavezzi. Unfortunately unbeknownst to Chiellini is that Lavezzi is also an acrobat, and managed to turn contact with the ball into a leap of 4 feet in the air and a somersault - making the challenge look like an infringement. It was nothing of the kind. And so, because we have a referee who cannot bear to appear to have "missed" a call, we have instead a penalty, and an unjust one-goal defict to the visitors.
And as though he sensed the opportunity to exploit the referee's insatiable appetite for these ridiculous illusions, Marcelo Zalayeta, the man who was unceremoniously dumped after 7 years of service to the Old Lady of Turin, got his revenge on his former club by performing a similar (albeit les acrobatic) somersault - this one resulting from no contact at all. And Bergonzi promptly obliged with yet another undeserved penalty.
This is the worst kind of injustice for two reasons. First, because these calls by implication are the worst kind of error a referee can make, because it injects him into the result in a way that a missed call does not. Errors of comission are always worse. But also, because Claudio Ranieri took this as an opportunity to create the appearance of bias against Juventus, following their fall from grace in the match-fixing scandal. That memory should remain for years to come, as Italian football must remain vigilante against the unsporting influence of managers and directors, and as such, his "woe are we" act is totally inappropriate.
But that doesn't erase the culpability of Bergonzi. These were calls he didn't see (we know this because they didn't happen) but he made them anyway. And he's cost Juve the game. Even criminals deserved the proper execution of justice.
PREDICTION: Even though Pierluigi Collina (the bald-headed one) has properly disciplined him, to cover for the unconscionable error of Bergonzi, the Italian FA will ban Zalayeta for simulation, just so the real culprit - the illusion of omniscence - will go unscathed and unfortunately persist.
Now that's just wrong.