Farcical refereeing decision costs Inter victory in Florence


As is the case in Italy all too often, the reaction to tonight’s encounter between Fiorentina and Inter will be dominated by a hugely controversial decision by the match officials. Indeed, it was a busy evening for Sicilian referee Rosario Abisso, who was at the centre of no less than three major incidents involving VAR. There is no doubt he was 100% correct to award the Nerazzurri a penalty shortly after half-time, and disallow Cristiano Biraghi’s strike shortly afterwards which would have halved the Viola’s two-goal deficit. On the contrary, standing by his decision to give the home side a penalty deep into stoppage time, even after consulting VAR, is nothing short of disgraceful.

While many will support the narrative that the Tuscans did more than enough to merit at least a point, the manner in which the game ended up being decided is an embarrassment for Serie A and Italian football as a whole. Irrespective of the angle one looks at the incident from, there is nothing Danilo D’Ambrosio could have done to prevent the ball from striking his chest and then faintly touching his arm afterwards. What is he supposed to do? Make himself invisible? VAR was brought in to cut out such blatant errors but, until referees learn to use it properly, there will continue to be discrepancies.

D’Ambrosio was rightly incensed when the aforementioned Abisso returned from the pitch side screen only to point to the penalty spot for a second time. Quite understandably, he fully expected the decision to be overturned following the review. For Inter, the stakes are high right now as they look to secure qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. The last thing they need is to be handicapped by such incompetency from the powers that be. The Stadio Artemio Franchi is a difficult enough venue to play football without episodes such as this.

Luciano Spalletti’s players actually defended their 3-1 lead relatively well, as there was nothing anyone could do about Luis Muriel’s stunning free kick. To have victory snatched from them so unjustifiably will be a bitter pill to swallow, especially with another tricky away match against Cagliari on Friday night to prepare for. Over the coming days, there will be a lot of discussion among the Italian sports media about the rights and wrongs of what happened this evening. Truth be told, there is not much to say besides the fact that the referee made an absolutely farcical decision which makes a mockery of the entire league.

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