Collina: “Referees must act against racism”

"Of course, I wanted the AARs and I will show you why", said Pierluigi Collina, who runs the computer and starts a video: "Chelsea-Barcelona in 2005, the second leg of the Round of 16. The TV camera focuses on Terry; he is the player to keep an eye on at the corner kick. I know it myself, so I follow his movements and those who are around him. This is the decisive moment...". The current UEFA Chief Refereeing Officer stops the movie, the screen shows two red and two blue arrows, drawing the cone of light in his eyes and that of a hypothetical AAR. The still image is unforgiving. "Terry is about to head the ball, with his arms wide. Just look there. At the same moment, Carvalho is behind the goalkeeper and is holding him. From my position, I did not see it...". This was a detailed analysis of an error, in perfect Collina style, looking at every detail, every step. The goal is always the same: to improve. In this way, the man from Viareggio has become the best referee in the world and now the number one among the referee "coaches". He is preparing the meeting of UEFA top officials, which will begin on Monday in Rome, a crucial moment in view of the final stages of the Champions League and Europa League. And for the first time there will be not only the men referees, but also the women's from the Elite category.
- So, even Collina made mistakes? 
- The mistake is part of the life of a referee, but it is an opportunity to grow. There is always something you could do, maybe one thing. In Terry's goal was not easy to take care of all the couples present in the area, but perhaps a different position could have helped me see the foul. Of course, it is just impossible to have total control. With the additional assistants is easier: you can divide the tasks. Then maybe the foul would go unpunished anyway. So that's one aspect that I would like to clarify. The AARs will create better conditions to control risk situations and to reduce errors. No one has ever thought that with the AARs the mistakes would disappear; it is part of human fallibility. Who wants to find mistakes, it will always have material available. Today, however, it is less than before. Football has changed a lot and I could argue that just two eyes to manage the game is anachronistic. You can always improve.
- In Italy the trial began from day to day. Some speak of "confusion of roles" and "subjectivity" of younger referees compared with those experts. 
- FIGC and AIA had courage. It takes patience, but the results are positive. The matter of the roles does not exist; they are well defined: the referee has the final responsibility. The AARs must help and support, but the last word goes to whoever has the whistle. Italy has the merit of having shown the way. Other federations are following suit. There are additional assistants in Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, Israel, Belgium and Hungary. Russia will begin with the Cup. And then, in a little while, they will be implemented in Romania, Bosnia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. 
- The meeting in Rome will also provide information on upcoming matches of the Champions League and Europa League?
- It will be a stage with fitness tests and lectures. In 96 matches in the group stage of the Champions League we have employed more than 40 referees. It was an important rotation that allowed us to launch young and very promising referees from countries other than the usual ones. 
- What are the technical aspects that UEFA will focus on? 
- Before the Euro 2012, it was important to go to the camps of the national teams to explain them what would have been our priorities and what were the things to avoid for the players. We will continue to focus on players playing hard and protests. Who plays dangerous and violent needs to be sent off. It is not a simple decision to take, but it is necessary, if we are to protect the game and the health of players. And respect for the referee. 
- Other topics to be discussed? 
- The interpretation of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the handball. In the first case, a situation triggers the red card. The English word "obvious" makes a better idea of "clear". On the second point, there are certain parameters that would allow a handball to be punished, even without being certainly deliberate. Here are two examples. In Milan – Anderlecht, Nuytinck was sent-off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, but Pato had made a dribbling inward and El Shaarawy, who could pass the ball, was about 45 metres from the goal. That was too far to be considered an “obvious” goal-scoring opportunity. The yellow card would have been the correct choice. Second case: maybe the handball was not deliberate, but the arm held high by Shakhtar’s defender against Chiellini should have been punished with a penalty kick in the Champions League match Shakhtar – Juventus. 
- In Italy, there was the case Boateng and many have wondered what are the duties of the referee. Can you explain? 
- Racism, such as gambling, is a cancer to the game; otherwise football will die. As Platini recently noted, since 2009, UEFA has a very specific protocol that referees must respect. In the presence of blatant insults and racism, the first step is a short stop and warning spectators to cease such acts. If the situation does not improve, the referee switches to a real suspension (5-10 minutes) with the teams in the locker rooms and another announcement that these behaviours will no longer be allowed. If not successful, the final step will be abandoning the match in accordance with the UEFA delegate and the security officer. It is a difficult decision, but match officials must be ready to take it. It's their job. 
- Do you miss refereeing on the field? 
- Yes, I miss it very much. It has been over seven years since my last match, but it seems like yesterday. 
- What match would you referee again? The final of the 2002 World Cup? 
- No, I would referee my last match, Pavia – Bari, in the Italian Cup.

Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport