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Another refereeing row brews in Italy

21 January 2015, 19:44

Milan - Empoli coach Maurizio Sarri has branded the Coppa Italia an "unsporting competition" after his team's controversial extra-time defeat to AS Roma, the latest refereeing controversy to hit Italian football.

Roma converted a penalty six minutes from time for a foul by Piotr Zielinski on Leandro Paredes in Tuesday's game. However, replays appeared to show that Zielinski played the ball cleanly before any contact was made with his opponent.

"There's my own resentment, but above all I'm upset for the lads," Sarri told state broadcaster RAI.

Also read: Eto'o exit all but done

"If I'm going to be honest, this competition doesn't interest me at all because it's unsporting, there are teams who have entered in the fifth or sixth round," he added

"The club have told me not to talk about the penalty but everyone in the stadium saw what happened. Two of the Roma players told me afterwards that it was not a penalty."

The Coppa Italia is a knockout competition where the top eight clubs from the previous season's Serie A are given byes until the round of 16, the fifth round, while other Serie A clubs entre the fray in the fourth round.

That means there is almost no possibility of lower tier clubs getting the chances to play the likes of Roma and Juventus.

Roma themselves have been sulking since September when they lost 3-2 to Juventus in a top-of-the-table Serie A clash which produced three penalties, two to Juve.

However, Roma were the beneficiaries of another controversy when they beat Udinese 1-0 this month after the referee over-ruled his assistant and gave a goal in a ball-over-the-line incident.

Roma coach Rudi Garcia backed the penalty award against Empoli.

"I haven't seen the pictures, I've just been told that the penalty was clear," he said.

"You can see that the Empoli player takes away Paredes' legs and the referee is less than five metres away, he's in an excellent position to make a judgement.

"You just need to have faith in the referee. However, I don't know if the Empoli player touches the ball first and the legs afterwards."

"The most important thing in the Cup is to qualify," he added. "We had more than 30 shots on goal. The only thing that matters is to go forward."

- Reuters


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