The Gazzetta carries the sad news that Pierluigi Collina (di Viareggio) has decided to call it a day with refereeing. The world famous bald head will no longer be gracing the green fields and the extension granted to him for international refereeing by FIFA will count for nought.
What is sad is the reason for his resignation. He had just concluded a sponsorship agreement with Opel. Unfortunately a minor club in serie A is also sponsored by the same company. The referees association headed by Tullio Lanese were insisting that Collina had a conflict of interest - Collina should either terminate his sponsorship or end up refereeing in Serie B. He chose to call it a day.
Collina stated that he would not have minded refereeing in Serie B but it was about much more than that. It was about believing in referees. In other words it was about believing that a referee could share the same sponsor as a football team and not feel an inclination to give that team a helping hand. He is right. But in the poisonous world of Italian football he could never win. I for one believe him... sponsor or no sponsor... how could you ever sympathise for a team that throws away a three goal margin in a Champions League Final and draws one all with Ascoli?