By Walter Broeckx
I have said on a number of occasions that the referee’s world is a closed world where pressure can be put on referees.
They will not openly say: make sure team X wins a game. This is something you can only do when you know the ref is on the inside. And completely on the inside. But…
I have told you time and again that refs want to do the big games. And then it might come to a surprise that the one who was considered the best ref in the world for a long time was in fact a ref who didn’t do that many top games in Italy. Oh sure he did some but not as many as one could expect. The reason? Well the reason was that Moggi from Juventus thought that Colina was not “reliable”.
This is another way of saying that Colina was not bending over for pressure from the top guys in the referee association. So in fact Collina build his reputation mostly on doing top games in Europe and in world cups. Now Collina was used in the appointment carousel but because he was considered a man with integrity he wasn’t the favourite ref for Moggi. No, Moggi wanted refs who were more bendable.
Police investigations revealed that for the game Juventus- AC Milan (which ended 0-0) Moggi called with the ref who did the game no less than 13 times. Could you imagine Wenger calling Dean some 13 times before a game? I don’t think Wenger even has Dean his number. And shouldn’t have it.
By the way there are strict rules for using your phone before and during a game for refs. You must shut your phone down before the game and then it has to stay that way till the end of that game. But investigations revealed how the fixers used untraceable (they thought but were wrong) foreign sim-cards to talk with referees.
A few examples of this are when Bergamo (one of the people who appointed the refs) wanted to make sure that he could get in touch with the 4th official during the Roma- Juventus game which ended in 1-2. He then instructed the secretary of the referee commission to contact Marco Gabriele and the instruction was that his wife should give her phone to her husband so that Bergame could reach him during the game, and that he should use a foreign SIM card. This implies that the 4th ref actually was considered to use his influence on the ref and the assistants on the field. Juventus won the game thanks to an offside goal.
What will follow is an extract from a phone call made by Pairetto (referee appointer) and the referee Paolo Dondarini the ref who did the game Juventus-Sampdoria. This was a conversation the day before the game. Enjoy reading and certainly read between the lines.
• Dondarini: Gigi? I am, Donda.
• Pairetto: Donda Hey, how are you?
• Dondarini: Am I disturbing you?
• Pairetto: No.
• Dondarini: Are you okay?
• Pairetto: Yes and you?
• Dondarini: Fine, Manfredi (Manfredi Martino, former secretary of the referee commission) just called me.
• Pairetto: Uhm …
• Dondarini: And he has asked me a few things.
• Pairetto: Ah, how about that!
• Dondarini: Uh, yeah, I know.
• Pairetto: Be sure that you don’t screw up on Sunday.
• Dondarini: Wednesday you mean tomorrow …
• Pairetto: Yes, Wednesday, you whistle a perfect match because you know there’s a lot at stake.
• Dondarini: Yes, they are special games.
• Pairetto: Exactly, exactly.
• Dondarini: Yes, yes, yes, no, it’s necessary …
• Pairetto: So …
• Dondarini: With fifty eyes wide open.
• Pairetto: What?
• Dondarini: With fifty eyes paying attention.
• Pairetto: Ah, very good, and also to see things that are not there, occasionally …
• Dondarini: Yes.
• Pairetto: So that’s exactly what I tell you eh.
• Dondarini: Good.
• Pairetto: Look, I don’t need to explain it to you.
• Dondarini: No, no.
• Pairetto: I know you will whistle a very fine game.
This is clearly a conversation of two people who know what they want and the other knowing what they expect.
Can’t happen in England you might say? Well we don’t know. Do the police tap the phones of the refs and the referee appointers?
So what do we have now?
The general manager of the record0holding club in Italy using his “friends” to appoint the right refs for the games of his own team, using the “bad refs” to be appointed for his closest rivals. The people who appoint the refs act that way. And the media is used to cover things up.
But there is one little thing I would like to add. I have written articles where I have said that refs know who is in charge of football in their country. Some refs are fans of the leading team in the country. And other refs know that they have to give favours to the leading team in their country.
I have talked with former refs in the highest division in Belgium and they confirmed to me that giving a penalty against Anderlecht (record holding team in Belgium) is a bad career move. It can ruin your career as a ref. Of course not when an Anderlecht defender uses his hands to block a shot on the goal line. Then they can accept such a penalty. But a dodgy penalty against this team? Stay away from it or you will be punished and maybe you can forget your ref career.
Let me now use the words spoken by former Italian referee Angelo Bonfrisco.
In 2006 ex-referee Angelo Bonfrisco said some interesting words about the referees and the people who appoint the refs to the games: “In Italian football you learn to have respect and fear for the big clubs. You make your career with them and through their victories. ”
Please let that message sink in a bit I ask you. You make your career with them and through their victories. Refs know this. And I just said that this is the same in Belgium.
According to Bonfrisco that is the message that every time when the referees meet in the sports centre in Coverciano will hear. Time and again this message is put in their heads. And who is telling that message to the referees? According to Bonfrisco and using his words: “The teachers there are the two people who appoint the referees. Pierluigi Pairetto and Paolo Bergamo. ”
The pressure is put on the referees every week to make sure that the good guys win. And who are the good guys? Mostly teams who are record holders in winning trophies. This was the case in Italy. It is the case in Belgium. I cannot speak for other leagues but it might be the case it happens over there also.
And what about England? Manchester United getting no red cards in the whole season so far. Manchester United getting no penalties against in the whole season so far.
Of course it could be a coincidence…..
After reading all this are you really sure that there is nothing wrong with the referees in the PL? Do you really think that the situation in Italy is only happening there. I’m not that sure. And the way the PGMOL acts like a secret organisation with no transparency at all. The way they act by not letting in referees from the South East or the London area in to their little world is raising my suspicion. And the fact that the record holding team seems to be never on the receiving end of red cards and penalties raises even more suspicion.
In general most refs are smart. They know what to do even without being told what to do. They only want to help their own career. And if the media let them off the hook when they make a mistake in favour of a certain team…. How convenient and what a coincidence.
- Angelic Albion; sweet home of all that is right in football
- Calciopoli – Can it happen in the PL? – Part 2
- Not El Classico; El London/Mancs Run-In
The referee analysis
The full index of articles in order of publication is now available here.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches