Gianluigi Buffon made a fool of himself after Juventus’ defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League.
The legendary Italian goalkeeper, carved from the marble of Carrara, couldn’t handle Michael Oliver’s correct decision to award a penalty. That was understandable given the heat of the moment and the passion Buffon has for the game.
What wasn’t so understandable was Buffon’s comments after the match, once given some time to cool down. Seemingly surrounded by people telling he was right, too afraid to give Buffon the advice he really needed, the goalkeeper stained his reputation and encouraged a rash of trolls to filter out across the internet and make fools of themselves in the mirror image of their hero.
Late on Saturday evening, Buffon spoke to Italian TV and when it would have been the right time to apologise, we all make mistakes, he seemed to continually trip over his pride and ego, unable to get to the point or genuinely accept fault.
TMW have published some of the quotes.
“I do not have to fix it because I am a human being that has passion, feelings, anger, I find ways to speak, right or wrong, sometimes excessive, but this is it.”
Buffon said that whilst his post match comments may have been “in some respects uneducated”, they were “the feelings of a man who is not behind a veil of hypocrisy, and throws out what the guts tell him”.
Lifting himself above the level of scrutiny of other mere footballers, Buffon added: “You cannot ask a person who lives the sport with a fullness as I do to accept, be balanced, because in the end, albeit excessively expressing certain thoughts, these were thoughts that had a logic… maybe with another kind of language, more civilised we should say things. But it remains that the content of what I said I confirm in full.”
Specifically on Michael Oliver, Buffon explained: “Even if I exaggerated excessively, I said what I thought. He didn’t have to whistle the other night, a referee with more experience would not have whistled, standing up as the protagonist of a game, and let the teams play in extra time, let the pitch do the talking.
“Oliver is a guy who will have a great career, he was unlucky, I think a young referee was sent to referee an important game. Already consolidated, already strong, who had already shown his value, but it is a game in which the result seemed secondary.”
The 40 year old then added “a guy who has found himself in a situation too complex, too tangled and too big”, and was talking about Oliver but could easily have been referring to his own behaviour since the match.
When asked if he has a grudge over the result, Buffon presumably kept a straight face as he said: “I do not bear a grudge, I’m not angry either, it’s all over, but it’s normal that here one feels, I do not say penalised, but really defrauded, but not of a result that was an unrepeatable match. To write a memorable football story for Juventus, for Italy: our victory would be combined with that of Roma, it would have been something incredible, crazy.”
Buffon made a point during his interview, more than once, of insisting he was so annoyed because he felt hurt on behalf of all of Italy, not just Juventus.
Back on the penalty, the Juventus capitain reiterated previous comments that he’s not saying it absolutely wasn’t a foul, just that it shouldn’t have been given because of the circumstances: “That is not a situation in which you can say: in my opinion that is a penalty with certainty.
“I don’t say that it wasn’t a penalty, I say it was doubtful and on something dubious in a similar game, 20 seconds from the end of the game, a referee of experience, in my opinion, makes another kind of evaluation.
“At least give me the legitimacy to defend in that exasperated and passionate way my companions, those five thousand who came to support us.”
Buffon believes he was compelled to defend his teammates even if it’s tainted his image. And that image of Buffon, which is shared around the world, is of a goalkeeper so respected he’s become God-like for many, perhaps for himself too.
Gianluigi Buffon has been seen as a man, a respectable man, a real man, an old fashioned masculine figure, in a game which can often seem to be populated by pampered boys struggling to grow up.
But then, such a man may have had the same passionate response Buffon showed, and then afterwards found it within himself to genuinely accept fault rather than present himself as somewhat irreproachable.