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Controversial ref hits back at claims

21 October 2014, 13:23

Rome - Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi hit back at claims he favoured Juventus in a controversial 3-2 win over Serie A rivals Roma but admitted he could have handled the bad-tempered match differently.

"When I referee a Juventus game, I treat them as I would any other team," Rocchi said on the television show Il Processo del Lunedi.

"My aim is always to officiate in the fairest manner possible."

Rocchi admitted, however, he could have better handled key decisions in the bad-tempered clash in Turin three weeks ago: "I'm sorry that my performance wasn't up to scratch... I could have done better."

Juve's victory saw the champions pull three points clear of Roma but it was marred by accusations that Italy's biggest club, who have previously been sanctioned for their role in a match-fixing affair, had somehow influenced the match officials.

Rocchi awarded a total of three penalties, two for Juventus and one for Roma, and sent Roma coach Rudi Garcia off for dissent after the Frenchman played an imaginary violin on the touchlines when Rocchi awarded a first penalty to the hosts.

Also read: Roma coach still brooding over Juventus defeat

When Andrea Pirlo's free kick hit the arm of Roma defender Maicon on the edge of the penalty area, Rocchi hesitated before appearing to bow to the demands of the Juventus players who had surrounded him.

Rocchi admitted: "My handling of the Maicon penalty episode was irregular. You could say an unbalanced handling of the situation created tension between the players and against the referee."

After Carlos Tevez converted the spot-kick, Roma levelled when Francesco Totti scored from the penalty spot and took a 2-1 lead into the half-time interval thanks to Juan Iturbe.

Juventus, however, levelled from a second penalty awarded after another borderline decision following Miralem Pjanic's foul on Paul Pogba on the edge of the area.

Amid a bad-tempered finale that saw one player from each side sent off, Juve then snatched an 86th minute winner thanks to a volley from Leonardo Bonucci.

Roma captain Totti later claimed Juventus, who were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 Serie A titles for their role in the Calciopoli match-fixing affair which also implicated top level referees, "should play in a championship of their own because they always win."

The row has rumbled on since but Rocchi -- who has been put on garden leave by Serie A officials -- claims his only error was one of judgement in what was a tense situation.

"We are there to make decisions and I tried to make them in the best way possible, without having second thoughts or doubts," he said.

"Obviously when you make certain decisions it can create tension among players and sometimes they are not accepted.

"I take full responsibility for making the choices I did in a difficult situation."

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