Did Nicola Rizzoli Overturn His Own Penalty Call?

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Poor Nicola Rizzoli. Being in Serie A, he basically referees the equivalent of a bunch of 10-year-olds on energy drinks every weekend.

Sassuolo v. Roma was a prime example. It was a game of crying and begging and surrounding him at every turn. But one particular situation stood out: a penalty call in the 33rd-ish minute (I’ll explain the “ish” in  a second). Here’s what Reuters had to say:

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 12.05.13 PMFirst of all, there was no penalty. There was no contact. There were about fifty replays and you couldn’t see the slightest contact on Sansone. It was a dive … and a shameful one. Which makes what came next even more crazy.

I actually disagree with Reuters. I watched the match and I never saw Rizzoli signal for anything. He ran straight over, and was immediately surrounded by players in both green and white. He did hold his hand up, but it was palm out, more appealing for calm.

Then he put his hand over his mouth, clearly trying to talk to his assistants without everyone in his face. I never once saw him signal for anything and he didn’t reach for any cards. He saw that his assistant was surrounded by Roma players, and ran right over.

The next four minutes or so were absolute pandemonium and it really is difficult to know what was being said. Both sets of players were constantly surrounding him, and he spent much of the time calmly pushing them back and trying to talk to his add, Sebastiano Peruzzo, who kept backing up while the mob just dragged along with them.

Eventually, you could tell Rizzoli had made up his mind that nothing happened and he was just trying to calm everyone down. He was being super nice about it, which in a way was a little over the top, even going so far as to give poor Sansone a hug.

(I guess it’s fair to note that Rizzoli lives in Rome, so going out of his way to be generous and not look like he’s favoring Roma might have been deliberate.)

He eventually restarted the game with a dropped ball, though he had to hear about it at half time again.

Here’s a video that shows the lengths Rizzoli to which went to calm things down:

Overall, whether he changed his mind or not, Rizzoli and his men made the right call.

Update: It appears that the issue was that Rizzoli never thought it was a penalty, but Peruzzo was telling him it was. That’s why Rizzoli had to come rescue him from the Roma players. That’s also why he spent so much time talking to Peruzzo and then Sansone.

He apparently even promised Sansone he wouldn’t yellow card him if he would tell him whether there was contact. When Sansone admitted that there was slight contact but he tripped, Rizzoli said it wasn’t a penalty. And hugged him for good measure.

Bizarre, but I guess you do what you have to do…

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