As AC Milan departed the Uefa Champions League, eliminated 3-1 by Barcelona, some familiar utterances were heard: complaints about the consistency of match officials, mainly because of the second penalty awarded to Barca because Alessandro Nesta tugged at Sergio Busquets.
Nesta accepted he had "pulled Busquets", said he was fouled by Carles Puyol in the same episode and added: "In Italy referees give more fouls in general, but in Europe they give more penalties for shirt tugs." Massimo Ambrosini, Milan's captain, said: "At every corner things happen, but the interpretation changes from referee to referee."
Both should know that shirt-tugging and other forms of obstruction by defenders in the area are liable to result in a penalty.
The more referees punish this plague, the sooner it will be eradicated. It is to be hoped that the introduction of extra officials on the goal-line might one day help in spotting and punishing this particular offence, while also aiding decisions on whether the ball has crossed the goal-line.
And Milan want closer scrutiny of what happens around the goalmouth. Last weekend they claimed, against Catania, they had lost points because a strike that crossed the goal-line was not seen by officials. That had also happened against Juventus, they reminded us.
Yes, goal-line scrutiny is overdue in the game. But so is a crackdown on sly, illegal scrummaging at set pieces.
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