Referees in Serie A: young or experienced: enough vetoes, whistles the fittest

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It is debatable whether the choice of the Rocchi designator to launch many new referees was the right one for the generational change. But some experienced referees are no better than youngsters, on the contrary …

It seems to see the designator Gianluca Rocchi waiting in front of the TV, after the foul not seen by the referee Guide, that Massa al Var would call him back to grant one of the most obvious penalties of recent years thanks to the help of the review. We imagine him widening his eyes in front of the game that is made to resume and think: but even if two internationals like Guida and Massa combine a similar disaster, who should I send? The cold analysis of the episode could only lead to the natural suspension measure. The couple will not see A’s fields for about a month. A big trouble not only for them, but also for the designator himself who loses two of the most reliable referees this year given the performance, even if Massa had already shown that he was better on the field than on the monitor.

Heavy inheritance

We knew it was going to be a difficult season for the referees before it started. The average level is not high, among the more experienced ones (Orsato, Doveri, Irrati, Mariani, Valeri, Chiffi, Di Bello, the same Massa and Guida) there are elements of a good level, but none able to collect the legacies of the various Collina, Rizzoli and Rocchi himself. No one who gives the certainty of a risk-free Saturday or Sunday. Also for this reason, one of the requests made to Rocchi when entrusting him with the role of designator was to launch young people to allow the necessary generational change: a commitment that Rocchi himself has carried out, with varying fortunes, throughout most of the season.

The change at the top in the worst season

A similar operation, however, was the most complicated in a season in which five top clubs had changed coaches, calling the big names on the bench, each with the need to win and many with a recognized ability to manage communication and ride some controversy. Italian football has always not waited but this year, with the crisis left by Covid, even less. This is why perhaps more experienced management would have been needed. It is no coincidence that Rocchi himself would have preferred one more year together with the former designator Rizzoli (dividing Var and designations), with the proven team of deputies (Stefani, Gava, Giannoccaro) of which he had belonged. However, the change of presidency in The Hague also led to the desire to turn the page after the Rizzoli era. And so Rocchi found himself with a completely new team (deputy Gervasoni, Manganelli, Di Liberatore with Giannoccaro as a reference for the clubs) to manage alone and independently a year that was not easy. It can be debated whether it was a good choice to have launched many new referees, guaranteeing everyone a series of games that are also important to test their quality and management skills in difficult stadiums. Or whether or not it would have been better to make a selection and manage their insertion more gradually. Better to arrive at the San Siro and the Olimpico calmly or be thrown into the fray to see who was holding up the impact? Strategies. Perhaps Rocchi wanted to speed up the pace just to speed up the turnover. It must be said, however, that, despite some errors, the experiments have made a brood of interesting youngsters grow. It’s hard to predict if anyone will become a top, but there is room for good careers. The numbers and votes of the Gazzetta, which is not always generous towards the whistles (the 6 or 6.5 are already a promotion and the 7 and 8 in the report card are used more for the players than for the referees) show that there are young people of quality. Among the best so far Sozza, Dionisi, Marinelli, Sacchi, Ayroldi, Massimi, Forneau, Rapuano. Ready, with a desire to grow, learn and perhaps freer-headed than some older colleagues, certainly more savvy but also often at the center of controversy due to errors or somewhat touchy management of tags. In summary: some experienced referees are no better than youngsters, on the contrary …

Make way for young people, then the stop of the big names

And so in turn, in the Rocchi scheme, even the big names found themselves in front of whistles at their first experiences. A novelty that was welcomed at the beginning but when the season got underway, the atmosphere changed. Rocchi has continued to designate young referees in turn, even for the big teams, perhaps in almost predictable matches on paper. The problem is that from January onwards our championship no longer had discounted races, thanks to the defects and the ups and downs of the top of the class as well. And so after a couple of heavy mistakes suffered at San Siro against Spezia and Udinese refereed by young people, Milan with Maldini highlighted the need to have expert whistles for the big players in the hottest phase. Legitimate request, also endorsed by the press, including the Gazzetta Ufficiale. Enough experiments. Rocchi was also convinced of this, before being betrayed by the Guida-Massa couple. And now? Space only for the fittest: the various Orsato, Doveri, Irrati, Mariani remain in the front row, but also Sozza, Marinelli, Dionisi etc. will be busy without looking too much at the identity card and seniority of service.

Those mouths always sewn up

On the other hand, the silence of the arbitration institutions at the end of the match continues. It was said that from this year there would be more communication, interventions, clarifications, also taking advantage of the Lissone office or inaugurating web or television channels. Dead letter so far. Yet in 2022 it seems truly anachronistic to still rely on rumors. Of course, the stop filtered by the Guida and Massa referees already clarifies the thinking of those who manage them. But wouldn’t it have been better to explain, maybe even apologize? It would not even be a novelty, Fifa at the 2018 World Cup had already inaugurated the explanation of the episodes and errors. There was the courage to attempt the generational change, there is still no one to allow a designator or someone on his behalf to speak and communicate openly. It will be a theme for next year, hoping to close this one without further blunders, relying on the right mix of experts and young people. Hardly anyone today gives more guarantees than others, this is now clear.

March 15, 2022 (change March 15, 2022 | 01:02)