The president of the Italian referees association (AIA) has revealed that he and other members of the body were recently sent parcels fi
The president of the Italian referees association (AIA) has revealed that he and other members of the body were recently sent parcels filled with bullets, believed to be from disgruntled football supporters.
The controversial introduction of the video assistant referee (VAR) to Serie A has been the source of much consternation in Italy this season and last month, hundreds of Lazio fans staged a protest against VAR outside the Italian football federation’s headquarters in Rome.
And speaking on Thursday, AIA president Marcello Nicchi revealed that Italy’s Interior Ministry are currently investigating a number of troubling incidents involving his office.
“The Italian Referees’ Association has received packets with bullets addressed to me, to the vice president and to the selector Nicola Rizzoli,” Nicchi said, before going on to praise referee Marco Di Bello, against whom a group of Lazio supporters have filed a class action lawsuit as a result of alleged wrong decisions made during the Biancocelesti’s defeat to Torino in December.
“Yesterday Di Bello managed the Milan derby very well, yet he and another lad will have to appear before the justice of the peace because of supposed errors,” added Nicchi.
“They’ve been summoned by the Consumers’ Association, this is something very serious. Tell me, if Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, or a Serie A player, misses a chance; are they up in court the next week?
“This is scandalous.
“How can we send our referees on to the pitch when, if they happen to make a mistake, they might be subjected to this same fate?”
Nicchi also denounced an un-named journalist for suggesting fans should “shoot the referees” and provided some worrying statistics regarding violence against referees.
“A pundit also said in a broadcast ‘in war you shoot, we have to shoot at the referees’,” he said.
“We’ve reported him and we’ll follow the story as it develops, but as a result of things like that we received bullets in the post.
“This year too, but it has happened for decades now, about 300 officials have been assaulted.
“About 100 of them were seriously injured and some had to be hospitalized.”
Speaking via their official Twitter account on Thursday evening, Serie A high-flyers Napoli strongly condemned the actions of those who have threatened the AIA.