Calcio Debate: Technology in, trashy journalism out for Serie A

With the Italian press seizing any opportunity to sensationalise a controversial decision, believes it is time for change...
 Cesare Polenghi
 Analysis | Serie A
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A very good reason for the introduction of technology in football is of course that the game will become a bit fairer.

Wrong penalty and offside decisions could be corrected, violence and simulations on the pitch more easily spotted and results are unlikely to be effected by refereeing errors.

The argument, as it goes these days, is strengthened by the reality that too much money is at stake in today’s modern football and human error has become too costly.

And who would disagree after witnessing what happened this weekend in Serie A?

Catania accomplished the remarkable task of scoring a goal against Juventus, but the linesman - after almost a minute of doubts and discussions - wrongly disallowed it. I

It was the most thrilling blunder, on a Sunday that also saw a goal and a penalty denied to Lazio; a harsh red card against Torino; a soft penalty for Udinese that also resulted in a goal helped by Di Natale being offside; and last but not least a foul on Pellissier that should have given a spot kick to Chievo in Napoli.

Lest I forget, Milan won on Saturday with an irregular goal.

All this was too much of an opportunity for the Italian trademarked trashy journalism, that called Juventus' victory "Scandalous" and "Poisoned" on the front pages of the Corriere dello Sport and Gazzetta dello Sport.

Little did it matter that Catania's unfairly disallowed goal was the only shot on target the Sicilians had in the 90 minutes, against Juventus' nine.

Most Italian journalists and network owners are sadly more interested in selling football to frustrated masses than in actually talking about football to lovers of the game.

So, the pathetic exercise seen many times, including of course this Monday, is to reduce what was otherwise a good match into a couple of single episodes.

Forget the fact that the 19-year-old Paul Pogba had another cracker of a game, or Catania's Mariano Andujar produced some of the most spectacular saves seen this season.

What matters most is to sell newspapers, and the way to easily achieve this goal in Italy seems to be by fueling a culture of suspicion that does absolutely nothing to improve a football scene that has already been bleeding for over a decade.

The simple truth is that referees do make mistakes and that, over a season, they often tend to balance out.

Juventus were surely helped by a poor-sighted linesman, but in last season's campaign were often denied evident penalties.

On the other hand, in 2011-12, Milan were helped out with a few soft ones, as much as they were surely penalised on several occasions; at Lazio, in Florence and of course when Sulley Muntari scored a goal against Juventus seen by the whole world - except for Mr. Tagliavento, the unfortunate referee.

Still, within the next hour of play, in the same game, a regular goal by Alessandro Matri was wrongly disallowed and Milan were spared two evident red cards.

As anybody can see, it goes both ways, and at the end of the season, several Milan players admitted Juventus were deserved victors.

Football is a low-scoring game, a detail can often change the outcome of a match.

But it rarely changes a season, at least not in a round-robin tournament played over thirty-eight games.

This is a well-known fact but it tends to be forgotten because of the regrettable lack of sporting culture that is flushing Italian football's brand down the drain.

It is a suicidal game that so far sees no winners, yet quite a few losers.

Shameful, particularly when anybody can see that some of the best football on the planet is still played in Serie A.

When Catania were wronged over the weekend...

What happened in Chelsea-Manchester United [random cards, and a crucial goal scored from an offside] was probably much worse than what we have seen on any pitch in Italy this weekend, but players, managers and the press mostly dealt with it serenely.

The British know how to preserve their product, and their sport culture allows them to accept the fact that such things, however regrettable, do happen.

And - in a quite peculiar way - they are part of the unfairness that makes football a metaphor of life and helps us to love this game so much.

In a way, I feel sorry that technology will reduce this randomness and will detract from the unpredictability that human error adds to football.

But there will surely be reasons to celebrate once technology reduces the number of unfair calls.

One of them is that those Italian writers and editors, who have thrived by filling newspapers, the Internet and TV shows with rubbish disguised as journalism, will have to actually start to care about the game of football, or perhaps even better, find themselves another job.

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