Aleksander Ceferin missed an opportunity to put it on the back burner. Interviewed in October by the Italian media LaPresse, the UEFA boss had clearly gone beyond his duty of neutrality by declaring that "Italy must qualify for the 2024 European Championship, otherwise it would be a disaster". Because since then, if there has been no disaster, with the qualification of the Squadra Azzurra at the end of the draw (0-0) obtained by Luciano Spaletti's men against Ukraine, on Monday, in Leverkusen, the same cannot be said about the refereeing controversy. Or even scandal, if we look at it from the side of the Ukrainians.

Indeed, in injury time, Spanish referee Jesus Gil Manzano may have forgotten (it's all a matter of interpretation) to award a penalty to Ukraine after what looked quite like a foul by Cristante on Mudryk in the box. What is questionable, beyond the Spaniard's decision, taken in the heat of the moment, is the non-intervention of the VAR, the referees behind the screens not having noted any obvious error on the part of their counterpart on the pitch. Because contact does exist.

Only reason I can think of why not given is because of awfully exaggerated dive by Mudryk prompting referee to decide the contact wasn't sufficient enough to warrant a penalty. Because there's no doubt there's contact with solely player & not

— Nima Tavallaey Roodsari (@NimaTavRood) November 20, 2023

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The Italian press embarrassed by this decision

Questioned at a press conference, Sergei Rebrov, the coach of the Blue and Yellows, remained very sober and classy. "For me, it was a penalty, there's no doubt about that," he said. But I wasn't there [in the penalty area] and that's just my feeling. As for the Italian press, while some tried to explain the judges' decision by a hypothetical amplification of the fall by the Chelsea striker, Corriere Dello Sport, Italy's leading sports daily, was more suspicious.

In today's editorial, our confreres don't beat around the bush. "The only way to move forward is to move on. But it's less beautiful that way. We have to be honest, and avoid listing the many refereeing errors that, in the past, have deprived us of success, titles and damaged our liver: in the final seconds, referee Gil Manzano pretended not to see the penalty that would have allowed Ukraine to take advantage of a great opportunity. The VAR assistant had fled to the toilet for a moment (inflamed prostate, I guess). In short, it didn't go well, but it went very well. A strong opinion that will not do justice to the Ukrainians, but which has the merit of honesty.

  • Euro 2024
  • Sport
  • Football
  • Video Refereeing
  • Italy
  • UEFA