Showing posts with label Pierluigi Collina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pierluigi Collina. Show all posts

23 May 2017

Sergio Gonella - football referee

First Italian to referee a World Cup final

Sergio Gonella was the first Italian to referee a World Cup final
Sergio Gonella was the first Italian to
referee a World Cup final
Sergio Gonella, the first Italian football referee to take charge of a World Cup final, was born on this day in 1933 in Asti, a city in Piedmont best known for its wine production.

Gonella was appointed to officiate in the 1978 final between the Netherlands and the hosts Argentina in Buenos Aires and although he was criticised by many journalists and football historians for what they perceived as a weak performance lacking authority, few matches in the history of the competition can have presented a tougher challenge.

Against a backcloth of political turmoil in a country which had suffered a military coup only two years earlier and where opponents of the regime were routinely kidnapped and tortured, or simply disappeared, this was Argentina’s chance to build prestige by winning the biggest sporting event in the world, outside the Olympics.

Rumours of subterfuge surrounded most of Argentina’s matches and when the final arrived the atmosphere in the stadium was as intimidating as anything Gonella would have experienced in his whole 13-year professional career.

The match began with an unprecedented delay, caused first by the Argentine team’s deliberate late arrival on the field, an arrogant tactic designed to unsettle the brilliantly talented Dutch team, and then by the Argentine captain, Daniel Passarella, objecting to the plaster cast on the arm of Dutch defender RenĂ© van de Kerkhof.

Sergio Gonella with the Dutch player Rene van der Kerkhof and the offending plaster cast
Sergio Gonella with the Dutch player Rene van der
Kerkhof and the offending plaster cast
Van de Kerkhof had worn the cast all through the tournament with no complaints but Passarella said it was potentially dangerous and Gonella ordered that it be removed, at which the Dutch players threatened to walk off en masse.  Eventually a compromise was reached whereby Van de Kerkhof taped some foam rubber over the top of the cast.

The match eventually kicked off nine minutes later than scheduled. Once play began the tackles flew in, with neither sign showing much restraint, and Gonella was never really in control. What’s more, in the partisan atmosphere, he appeared almost always gave the benefit of any doubt to Argentina, who ran out 3-1 winners after extra time.

Years later he defended his performance, answering accusations that he was party to some sort of conspiracy to ensure that Argentina won by pointing out that with the scores at 1-1 and only seconds remaining of the 90 minutes, Rob Rensenbrink of the Netherlands rolled a shot against a post and Argentina were therefore only millimetres away from losing the game.

Gonella, a banker by profession, began to officiate in Serie A matches in 1965 at the age of 32, immediately identifying himself as a no-nonsense arbiter by awarding seven penalties in his first seven matches.

He was generally seen as an impartial disciplinarian and had been a referee at the top level in domestic football for only seven seasons when he was given his first major international assignment, in charge of the final of the European Under-21 championships.

Sergio Gonella in a recent TV interview
Sergio Gonella in a recent TV interview
In 1976 he was the man with the whistle in the senior European championship final between Czechoslovakia and West Germany in Belgrade and when he was given the 1978 World Cup final he became one of only two men to take charge of both these prestigious matches.

In domestic football he won the Giovanni Mauro prize for the season’s best referee in Italian football in 1972 and in 1974 he officiated in the Coppa Italia final between Bologna and Palermo.

He quit refereeing after the 1978 final.  Referees were part time in that era and Gonella said he wished to have the opportunity to take his summer holidays with his family rather than with a whistle round his neck at a football tournament.  He had officiated in 175 Serie A matches.

Gonella remained in football, however, as a designator of match referees in Serie A and was president of the Italian Referees’ Association from 1998 until 2000.

For a while during his career he lived in La Spezia before returning to Asti province, specifically the village of Calliano, about 14km (nine miles) north-east of the city of Asti and about 45km (28 miles) east of Turin.

He was inducted to Italian football’s Hall of Fame in 2013. Two other Italians have refereed the World Cup final – Pierluigi Collina in 2002 and Nicola Rizzoli in 2014.

The Torre dei Comentini
Travel tip:

Asti is a city of around 75,000 people situated in the plain of the Tanaro river about 55km (34 miles) east of Turin. Many of his most important historical buildings are from the 12th and 13th centuries, when Asti grew to be the most powerful city in Piedmont when there was a fashion for building towers as symbols of power and prestige, hence Asti acquiring the nickname of the ‘city of 100 towers.’ There were thought to be 120 at one stage, of which several remain, including the Torre dei Comentini and the Torre de Regibus. Notable churches include the Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Collegiata di San Secondo. Every September the city hosts the Palio di Asti, less famous than the Palio di Siena but the oldest in Italy, now staged in the triangular Piazza Alfieri.

The hilltop village of Calliano
Travel tip:

Calliano is a pretty village built on a hill between two valleys characterised by a network of streets spiralling down from the church of Santissimo Nome di Maria, right at the very top of the hill and visible from the surrounding area.  Calliano is also known for its local pasta dish, agnolotti d’asino – pasta envelopes similar to ravioli, stuffed with donkey meat.

13 February 2017

Pierluigi Collina - football referee

Italian arbiter seen as the best in game's history

Pierluigi Collina
Pierluigi Collina 
Pierluigi Collina, arguably the best and certainly the most recognisable football referee in the history of the game, was born on this day in 1960 in Bologna.

Collina, who was in charge of the 1999 Champions League final and the 2002 World Cup final, was named FIFA's referee of the year for six consecutive seasons.

He was renowned for his athleticism, his knowledge of the laws of the game and for applying them with even-handedness and respect for the players, while using his distinctive appearance to reinforce his authority on the field.

Standing 1.88m (6ft 2ins) tall and with piercing blue eyes, Collina is also completely hairless as a result of suffering a severe form of alopecia in his early 20s, giving him an intimidating presence on the field.

Growing up in Bologna, the son of a civil servant and a schoolteacher, Collina shared the dream of many Italian boys in that he wanted to become a professional footballer.  In reality, he was not quite good enough, although he was a decent central defender who played amateur football to a good standard.

Pierluigi Collina is now UEFA's  chief  refereeing officer
Pierluigi Collina is now UEFA's
 chief  refereeing officer
When he was 17 and at college, he was persuaded to take a referee's course and displayed a natural aptitude. Soon, he was taking charge of matches in regional football and, after graduating with a degree in economics at the University of Bologna and completing his compulsory military service, began to contemplate that instead of playing he might one day referee at the highest level.

In the meantime, though, he had to work.  His first job was in the marketing department of a newspaper group based in Milan, from which he then moved to Viareggio in Tuscany to work for a bank, where he would later establish himself as a financial consultant.

He began to officiate in Serie D and Serie C matches in 1988 and within just three years had been promoted to Serie B and Serie A.

Bu 1995, with only 43 Serie A matches to his name, he was co-opted to the FIFA list for international matches, winning his first major appointment in 1996, when he was allocated five matches at the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, including the final between Argentina and Nigeria.

Named Serie A's referee of the year in 1997 and 1998 and FIFA's best in 1998, he was put in charge of the Champions League final in Barcelona in 1999, which turned out to be one of most dramatic of all finals when Manchester United scored twice during the three minutes of stoppage time added on by Collina to beat Bayern Munich 2-1.

He described the match, in which Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer scored for United to overturn Mario Basler's goal for Bayern, as the most memorable of his career, likening the noise generated by United fans at the end to the "roar of a lion."

Pierluigi Collina was never easily intimidated on the field and earned the respect of players
Pierluigi Collina was never easily intimidated on the
field and earned the respect of players
The players and supporters of the German side remembered the occasion less fondly and came to regard Collina as bringing them bad luck.  He was also in charge when the German national team lost 5-1 at home to England in a World Cup qualification match in 2001 and officiated in the World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan the following summer, when Germany were beaten 2-0 by Brazil.

Collina published his autobiography, My Rules of the Game (published in English as The Rules of the Game) in 2003, and took charge of another showpiece occasion in 2004 when Valencia met Marseille in the UEFA Cup final before his career ended in regrettable circumstances the following year in a row with the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) over sponsorship.

He had agreed to a substantial contract to advertise for Opel cars (Vauxhall Motors in the United Kingdom) but as Opel were already sponsors of AC Milan the deal was seen as presenting a conflict of interest.  The FIGC felt they had no option but to bar Collina from top-level matches in Italy, to which he responded by tendering his resignation.

Despite attempts by the Italian Referees Association to find a compromise that would enable Collina to continue, he decided he would stick by his decision to resign and never officiated at a competitive professional match again, although he has refereed a number of charity matches since and serves the administration of the game as UEFA's chief refereeing officer.

Away from football, Collina has been married since 1991 to Gianna, with whom he established the coastal resort of Viareggio as his home. He has two daughters and is a lifelong supporter of Fortitudo Bologna basketball club.

Tagliatelle bolognese, one of Bologna's most famous dishes
Tagliatelle bolognese, one of Bologna's most famous dishes
Travel tip:

Famed for its culinary tradition, Bologna is known as La Grassa - the Fat One - and with good reason. The home of the world's most famous pasta dish - although bolognese sauce is always served with tagliatelle rather than spaghetti in the city of its birth - Bologna is also famed for its mortadella sausage, which is also a key ingredient of the city's second most well-known pasta, tortellini, the little twists of pasta that are also stuffed with pork loin and proscuitto crudo (raw ham), parmesan cheese, egg and nutmeg. The best traditional food shops in Bologna can be found in the area known as the Quadrilatero, bordered by Piazza Maggiore, Via Rizzoli, Via Castiglione and Via Farini.

Choose where to stay in Bologna with

Viareggio's seafront promenade is lined with Art Nouveau buildings from the 1920s and 1930s
Viareggio's seafront promenade is lined with
Art Nouveau buildings from the 1920s and 1930s
Travel tip:

Viareggio is a seaside resort in Tuscany that has an air of faded grandeur, its seafront notable for the Art Nouveau architecture that reminds visitors of the town's heyday in the 1920s and '30s. Nonetheless, with wide sandy beaches it remains hugely popular, especially with Italians, and the flamboyant Carnevale, featuring a wonderful parade of elaborate and often outrageous floats, is second only to the Venice carnival among Mardi Gras celebrations.