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Breaking Down The Outrage Against The Referee in AC Milan vs Juventus Coppa Italia Draw

Milan got into the second leg with three major suspensions and a home draw after dominating Juventus for 90 minutes.

AC Milan v Juventus - Coppa Italia: Semi Final Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

This article is largely to outline the outrage of AC Milan fans, players and the manager over the first leg of the semi finals of the Coppa Italia against Juventus on Wednesday. The game ended 1-1 after Juve won a last minute penalty after a VAR check that awarded a penalty against Calabria for a hand ball. Milan also received a red card at the 71st minute. There were two major causes of controversy during the game: Firstly, the penalty and Secondly, the bookings.

The Penalty

As outlined by Isak Moller of Sempre Milan, the penalty was harsh given Davide Calabria was not facing the ball and had no idea that his arm was in the way. He refers to a similar decision that was deemed incorrect earlier in the season in a Cagliari game. The decision demonstrates the insane inconsistency of referees and decisions in Italy that leads to controversy.

Similarly, there is evidence from a refereeing conference here where the above situation is referenced and the advice is that it should not be a penalty given the lack of reaction time, lack of deliberate action and the natural position of the arm of the defender in the situation. Most importantly, the player’s back was turned. Even more frustrating was the situation pointed out by Milan midfielder Calhanoglu on his instagram where Milan were denied a clear penalty where the ball struck Alex Sandro’s arm last year despite a referee checking with VAR but Juventus are awarded an unclear decision.

The Bookings

The second and bigger issue is that of the referee Paolo Valeri throwing bookings at the AC Milan players indiscriminately whilst holding back for Juventus. The referee was entirely inconsistent in when he made bookings and was favourable to Juve who did not get booked for players committing multiple fouls. The major example is where Hernandez received his first yellow card, Dybala ran into the back of Bennacer and pushed him to the ground. This is a bookable offense but the referee did not give a foul nor a booking. When Hernandez shielded the ball he received a booking that was entirely unjustifiable. A similar incident occurred with Aaron Ramsey in the second half where he slapped a player but was not given the second yellow card. But when it came to Hernandez, the referee was all too quick to send him off.

The horrifying statistic was that AC Milan committed 16 fouls in the game to Juventus’ 14 fouls. Milan ended the game with 6 yellow cards and 1 red card while Juventus only received 1 yellow card. Thus, Milan got a booking for every 2.67 fouls while Juventus got a booking every 14 fouls. As a result, Milan will miss left back Theo Hernandez, winger Samu Castillejo and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the second leg of the semi final. The club will play away from home missing three starters thus giving Juventus a huge advantage.

This is why Milan fans are outraged, the systemic bias that favours Juventus is destroying the game. Milan outplayed Juventus for 90 minutes but still get played out by the referee.