x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Two more officials will not eliminate errors in Serie A

Italy is experimenting with two extra match officials but, on the basis of the first weekend, it is not the obvious solution to bad decisions.

Parma v Juventus on Saturday saw two bad decision despite five officials overseeing the game. Giorgio Perottino / Reuters
Parma v Juventus on Saturday saw two bad decision despite five officials overseeing the game. Giorgio Perottino / Reuters

Two extra match officials were in action in Serie A for the first time at the weekend, the use of behind-the-goal refereeing assistants now part of the Italian domestic game. At Juventus-Parma, they had important roles.

Carmine Russo, one of the officials behind the goal, was consulted by Andrea Romeo, the referee, about a trip on Juve's Stephan Lichtsteiner by the Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante before Romeo awarded a penalty, which Arturo Vidal would see saved.

Later, Maurizio Ciampi deemed that Andrea Pirlo's shot, which Mirante believed he had saved, had in fact crossed the line. That was the second of Juventus's goals in their 2-0 win.

All well and good. Television replays of the Pirlo goal were far from conclusive, so we must trust Ciampi's sharp eyes and value the input of officials in his position.

But the Juve-Parma match also reminded that, however many referees are on the field, errors will persist. The Juventus penalty award was a case in point. Yes, Romeo and Russo brought to the decision two different views. But what TV replays clearly showed was that a third perspective, that of the linesman Stefano Petrella, should have been the vital one. Lichtsteiner was offside in the lead-up to his being fouled by Mirante.

There is a potential downside to increasing the population of officials at matches: that the knowledge there is more manpower on the task might let officials think, in the back of their minds, that their own responsibilities, being shared, are lessened.