Willie Collum has come under renewed fire in Italy for his howler in Roma’s Europa League tie against Borussia Munchengladbach.
The Scottish referee infuriated the hosts when awarding a penalty for handball against them when Nico Elvedi’s header clearly struck Chris Smalling – on loan from Manchester United – on the face.
It was a crucial moment as it presented the Bundesliga side with a late equaliser, and the tie ended 1-1.
“It is a scandal,” said Roma legend Ruggero Rizzitelli, of the latest incident in the 40-year-old official’s controversy-dogged career.
“What Collum did is incomprehensible – I was really amazed. How can you possibly be sure of something that didn’t happen?
“It was total arrogance.
“The referee could easily have asked the opinion of his assistants, but instead chose to go on his own and, of course, got the decision wrong.
“It was a very serious mistake because it completely changes the situation of the group.
“Roma deserved the victory and with it would almost certainly be qualified. As it is, we don’t know if they will be able to progress or not.”
That view was shared by Zbigniew Boniek, who starred for Juventus and Poland as well as Roma, during his storied playing career.
“The referee’s mistake was an obvious one and it could have been avoided had he just asked the opinion of one of the assistants or the fourth official,” he said.
“I was disappointed, however, by the reaction of the Borussia players who contributed by appealing for the penalty when they must have known there had been no handball.”
Collum, though, did get some sympathy, with Roberto Pruzzo – who scored a double when Roma knocked Dundee United out of the European Cup in 1984 – pointing to the absence of video assistant referee as a factor.
“If there had been VAR, this error would not have happened. I hope it will soon be used in all high-level competitions,” he said.
“But I want to add that I’m sorry for Collum. I am certain that he acted in good faith, convinced that the handball had been there.
“Now everyone blames him and that cannot be an easy situation for him to have to deal with.”
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