Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has refused to apologise to referee Michael Oliver following his side’s controversial exit from the Champions League against Real Madrid this week.
Trailing 3-0 from the first leg, Juventus, extraordinarily, managed to claw their way back to 3-3 on aggregate but Oliver elected to award Real a penalty in stoppage time when Medhi Benatia was adjudged to have fouled Lucas Vazquez in the area.
Buffon was livid with the decision and protested extensively, which resulted in him being sent off by Oliver before Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched the spot-kick past Wojciech Szczesny to send Real through.
Although Buffon has now had time to reflect on the incident, he has no intention of apologising.
Buffon told La Iene: ‘I don’t have to make up for anything, because I am a human being who puts passion, sentiment and anger into what I do.
‘You find a way to speak, right or wrong, that at times can seem excessive… but this is me, I am Gigi Buffon.
‘The other night the game had finished an hour and a half ago, so consequently what one expresses at that moment are sentiments and thoughts that are strong, in certain respects raw, but the sentiments of a man who won’t hide behind a veil of hypocrisy and instead throws out what is bubbling in his guts. End of story.
‘Right there, you cannot ask a man who lives sport as deeply as I do to be balanced, because even if I expressed these feelings in an exaggerated way, they were still logical thoughts. I’d say them all again. Maybe with a different type of language, one that was more civilised, let’s say. But the content remains and I stand by all of it.
‘Even if I was excessive, I said what I thought, that he should not have given that penalty. A referee with more experience would not have blown his whistle and decided not to become the protagonist of the match. He would’ve left it running, turned around and let the two teams fight it out in extra time. Let the pitch do the talking.’
Buffon went on to claim that Oliver, 33, doesn’t possess the requisite experience to referee matches of such magnitude.
He said: ‘I’m sure Oliver will have a great career in future, but he’s too young to officiate a match like that. The beauty, the imponderable nature of football, means that unfortunately this young man found himself in a situation that was too complex, too garbled and too big for him to deal with.
‘So at the end of the day, what I said after the match, I don’t hold any rancour towards Oliver. I’m not even angry with him. It all ended there, but naturally in the heat of the moment one does feel I’m not saying penalised… I felt defrauded. Not defrauded of the result, but of the night. It was a night that can never be repeated.’
Buffon’s actions at The Bernabeu could prove to be the closing chapter for his Champions League career, with the legendary goalkeeper having never won the famous competition.
The 40-year-old is incensed that his side were denied the opportunity to progress further in the Champions League.
‘We could’ve written a memorable page in the history books of football for Juve, for Italy. Our victory combined with that of Roma would’ve been just incredible.
‘Before being a Juventino, I am an Italian, and I really cared about Italian football doing well. Seeing Roma achieve that amazing comeback, I was so passionately cheering them on. Seeing Juve go to Madrid and come back from 3-0 down… I got emotional. It was just priceless.
‘I have lost more important matches than this, but the way it developed and was evolving, it was the most wonderful and exciting match I had ever experienced with Juventus. I think the same is true of my teammates and the fans.’
Buffon admitted that he isn’t categorically denying that the incident was a penalty, but he stressed that a spot-kick shouldn’t have been awarded due to the element of doubt that existed.
‘It wasn’t a situation where you could say: ‘That is definitely a penalty.’ I’m not saying it wasn’t a penalty, I am saying it was a dubious situation. In a game like that, 20 seconds from the end, a dubious situation is not going to be enough for an experienced referee to transform everything. In my view, an experienced referee would make a different evaluation.
‘Give me at least the legitimacy to defend in an exasperated and passionate manner the performance of my teammates, to defend those 5,000 fans who came to Madrid to cheer us on.
‘I have to defend my teammates and fans, even in a not very composed fashion, because I feel it. I had to let that out, even if it damaged my reputation.’
It remains to be seen whether Buffon, whose current contract expires this summer, will elect to play on with Juventus for another year.
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