UEFA recently expressed its displeasure with the deluge of comments and threats directed at English referee, Michael Oliver and his wife Lucy in the wake of Gianluigi Buffon’s comments.
In a press statement, the body admonished the senders of threatening messages to Oliver and his family stating they need to take the legality of their actions into consideration. “UEFA strongly condemns the abuse directed at Michael Oliver and his wife. We have been in contact with them to offer our support and we trust the relevant authorities to take action against those individuals who have behaved inappropriately both on and off social media,” the statement reads.
Oliver,33, took centre stage in the return leg of the Juventus-Real Madrid Champions League game when he awarded a 94th minute penalty to Real and sent off Buffon in the process.
The penalty which was duly dispatched by Cristiano Ronaldo consigned the Italian champions to a quarterfinal exit after a spirited comeback set both teams on the verge of extra time.
In the aftermath of the event, Buffon went on a vitriol bordering on the event and the character of the referee. ”The team gave its all, but a human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation. Clearly, you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a bin,” Buffon said.
“On top of that, if you don’t have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, drinking your Sprite and eating crisps. You cannot ruin the dreams of a team,” he added.
When presented with the opportunity to recant his statement, Buffon stated that in hindsight he could have used better language, notwithstanding he stands by all he said. “You find a way to speak, right or wrong, that at times can seem excessive – but this is me, I am Gigi Buffon. I’d say them all again – maybe with a different type of language, one that was more civilised, let’s say. The content remains and I stand by all of it,” he revealed.
President of Italian referee association Marcello Nicchi admonished Buffon’s comments, maintaining that the keeper should hold himself to a higher moral standard. “Buffon is a great champion, who has enjoyed a beautiful career. At certain levels, you’ve got to be careful about what you are saying because there are people who listen. If this happened in Italy, we would have defended the referee,” he said.