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Pride and Shame



I was planning this post to be about how well Roma and Juve represented Italy in the Champions League this week. I don’t even know if there are words for how proud I am of Roma. They smashed records, astonished even their biggest skeptics, and went swimming in ancient fountains to celebrate. Then offered to pay for the refurbishing of said fountain to the tune of €230 thousand. But then came Juve’s game. They also surprised and impressed by overturning a 3-0 deficit… away. But when a penalty was awarded to Real Madrid, they showed their true colors. Which for Buffon, was a straight red. And Chiellini motioned to Real Madrid players as if they had paid off the refs. And then came the public statements. Apparently, Juventus no longer have any shame. But certainly, to Serie A, they brought a lot of shame.

Pride and Shame

First let me start by saying I was crushed for Juve. They fought so hard to overcome their deficit, it was a tough way to lose. There is no worse way to lose than a penalty converted in the 90+7th. Actually, Milan lost to Juve on a penalty in the 90+7th last year, but I didn’t insult the ref or cry conspiracy or generally act shamefully like Juventus players, staff, and fans did yesterday. And if you don’t believe me, read my review of that game. Some people cling to the Gol di Muntari, but they forget Matri’s wrongfully disallowed goal for Juve in that same match. Juventus fans claim that anyone would react the same way as they have, but it’s not true. There are some of us who can objectively see calls, right or wrong, and are willing to forgive the latter. Or at least swallow the bitter pill and take responsibility for what was in their own control without lashing out at others. All of the acrimony between our two clubs then and ever since could have been avoided if people were willing to attempt a little objectivity.

Speaking of objectivity, I am reeling from reading the comments from both Agnelli and Buffon, who seem to believe that there was a reffing error in the first leg that should have been compensated for in this leg. These are people whose professions and lives depend on football. And they believe that refs can/should/do compensate for other referee’s mistakes. I know this is a common misconception, but they don’t. Not if they’re doing it right. And according to Agnelli, the legendary former Italian ref Collina, UEFA's referee designator, is not. Accusing the Italian of creating a bias against Italians, that's rich. He also brought up the poor reffing Milan had to deal with vs. Arsenal, but you’ll notice that Gattuso did not complain about that, let alone go on a tirade and make accusations. Not even in a loss. And again, I get that the Juve loss was harsh, I get that it stings, but these kinds of comments are not only unsporting, but they are irresponsible.

Arsenal's penalty was far more dubious than Real Madrid's, but Gattuso kept it classy

Speaking of irresponsible, a proper captain would never have gotten himself sent off in the first place, much less have said so many horrible things afterwards. People act like Buffon’s comments were nothing. Or that getting sent off for dissent is some kind of unbearable referee crime for which all referees must be punished. Many people don’t realize that for Buffon's physical display alone, Oliver could have sent him off. Buffon’s body language was threatening, and Oliver was pushed around a bit by the giant swarm of Juventus players. And that’s not even considering what Buffon said to Oliver. Here’s an example Milan fans can relate to: On Sunday, Bonucci was given a yellow card for dissent. Just a yellow. And he didn’t tell the ref that he had 'a trashcan for a heart' afterwards, either. But the Italian sporting justice committee fined him €1500 for his dissent, not just because he said something he shouldn’t have to the ref, but also because he was the captain. And a captain of all people should never say things like that. What he did was wrong. So why would people think the rules don’t apply to Buffon? Is he above the FIFA Laws of the Game just because it was likely his last Champions League match? What a ridiculously entitled viewpoint. 

There is also a precedent for misbehavior in someone’s last match. Remember Zidane? I caught the irony of Zidane and Buffon both being privy to a last game meltdown for each other. In 2006, Buffon was there when Zidane completely lost his cool and headbutted Materazzi in his last game for the French national team. How fitting that Zidane would be there as Buffon lost his cool in what was probably his last Champions League match. I wonder if he stuck around for Buffon’s real meltdown, in front of the press? So sad, none of this belongs in football.

Neither of these things is okay.

Obviously, it’s easier to win than lose. But contrasting Agnelli’s harsh and even misguided comments with Pallotta’s generosity after jumping in a fountain demonstrates the vast chasm between the levels of class of the two Serie A clubs. Roma achieved something amazing, only the second time in history their club has reached the semifinals of the Champions League. Certainly Juventus scoring three goals at the Bernabeu is spectacular, but they seem to feel somehow entitled based on Buffon’s career coming to an end or something, I don’t know. This time they certainly decided to tarnish their exit in a storm of shame. Of course it’s much easier to be gracious when you win. But it’s much more telling how a team behaves in a loss. And unfortunately we saw examples of both this week with both Roma and Juve… pride and shame.


This match was inspired by the music of Savage’s “The Answer”


Our next match is
Serie A Week 33
Milan vs. Napoli
Sunday, April 15 • 15:00 CEST (9am EDT)