He was everyone’s favourite referee growing up for his famous bulging eyes and uncompromising style, and it appears Pierluigi Collina is still as opinionated as ever.
The man who refereed the 2002 World Cup final, as well as Manchester United’s 1999 Champions League triumph in Barcelona, has had his say on Luke Shaw’s brutal injury last month, in a challenge which is easily one of the most notorious football tackles in years.
Shaw suffered a double-fracture in his right leg just 12 minutes into his Champions League debut after a wild challenge by PSV defender Hector Moreno, with the Mexican centre-back going unpunished.
Not only was Moreno not penalised by ref Nicola Rizzoli on the night, but UEFA later went on to award him with the official Man of the Match award on the night, to the severe annoyance of Manchester United.
But Collina, who retired from officiating in 2005, but continues to work with UEFA, admits he was disappointed with how the Shaw incident was handled.
Speaking at the Leaders in Sports Business Summit 2015, Collina commented:
On the field, nobody reacted because what was perceived, even by players on the field of play, was that the ball was played.
This is the thought of many: if the ball is played, it is not even a foul.
We need to make people, even the football community, aware that if you want to protect the safety of the player, even challenges on the ball but risking in terms of endangering safety of an opponent can be punished, should be punished.
Collina also said that following Shaw’s injury, he contacted all of the officials on UEFA’s roster, explaining:
We immediately reminded all of our referees how it is important to be careful in assessing those challenges that can be rated as reckless or even a serious problem.
We want to have the players playing and not players recovering from long-term injuries.
We certainly reminded our referees to be very, very careful with this matter.