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Family Meeting Gather 'Round: The State Of Italian Refereeing

As most of you here at the Offside know, I'm sure, things haven't been going too well for Italian football over the past couple years. Apart from our World Cup Championship, our domestic league has endured far too many scandalous accusations and dramatic charges that have now convinced me, as well as many others, that our country's favorite pastime has become too synonymous with negative and misleading connotations. Therefore, things must be done to steady the ship and mark a new course in order to redirect our beloved game's attention back towards our very competitive and high quality style of play. So my question to you the reader is: What can we do?

Family Meeting Gather ‘Round: The State Of Italian Refereeing

First, let me say that this piece is by no means intended to be biased towards Juventus, its supporters, or any other team in Serie A. This effort was put forth in good faith towards the renewal of strength in Italian football, and in so, acknowledges and maintains that positive change can only be made through the willingness to accept every team and organization equally, and above all respectfully. Moreover, as this article was inspired by the recent events surrounding the troubling state of Italian refereeing, we will look at the proposed option of foreign refs in Italy and the appeal of video replay. So with that said, I hereby formally begin this discussion.

Foreign Refs or Video Replay?

Foreign refs might just be the solution. I mean, if we can't teach our boys how to properly handle a game, then there's no reason why we should be all nationalistic and refute the admission of foreign refs into our league. After all, we have foreign players. Why not foreign refs? If we are all in agreement that Italian football (or any other nation for that matter) is and should continue to pursue the highest level of professional competition, then by no means can the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) or the Associazione Italiana Arbitri (AIA) assume good refs can only be found in Italy exclusively.

Some of the arguments against the probable success of the foreign ref solution lend themselves towards the unfortunately popular conspiracy-esc theories. Simply put, the reason things are the way they are, are because of the outside forces manipulating refs to manipulate results. Cultural propaganda such as: 'Everybody has their price' or 'How deep does the rabbit hole go?', suggest darker secrets exist in the world of Italian football. These sentiments are shared by many in Italy and present a unique and terribly burdensome sociological challenge to overcome. Moreover, in this view, foreign refs couldn't be a solution to our problem as they'd suffer from the same apparent weakness inherent in the human condition that are obviously not exclusively Italian.

The other less talked about solution at the moment within Italy is the introduction of video replay. Proponents of this method have long relished the fact that this allows for the highest level of accuracy possible with regards to fairness and equality. Many believe that a video replay system, if implimented correctly in the game of football, would allow for the most realistic approach to returning towards a focus on playing the game as it was meant to be played- competitive and fair. Supporters maintain that the stoppage of play for video reviews won't take any more time out of the game than the already alarming number of dives or faked injuries, that already cripple the flow of play today in Italy.  Some would argue that these situations could eventually be reduced as a result of the player's realisation that his or her theatrical performance (no matter how good) would not convince, or be able to hide from, a camera.

Of course those who feel strongly against the implementation of video replays feel as though it does not belong in the game of soccer. Currently the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), who oversees the international affairs of the sport, wholeheartedly opposes it. They maintain that the essence of the 'beautiful' game does not require such assistance, and that an overhaul in fundamental time structure as well as rules and regulations are unacceptable, given the already rich and illustrious history of the game. Michel Platini, one of the proponents of this belief, feels as though the game should "remain human" and only suggests the use of technology to aid in goal-line situations.

So some may say that we find ourselves at a crossroads in Italian football. Do we? Don't we? Can we? What is wrong with the game? How can we fix it? Do we take the lead? Do we stay the course? Is there need for any change at all? These questions, and many alike, represent the first step towards eventually cleaning up the reputation of the beautiful game so many Italians, like myself, worship. Forza Italia!