Gianluigi Buffon apologises to referee Michael Oliver for going ‘beyond the limits’ after Champions League red card

The Juventus goalkeeper is facing a Uefa ban for his comments.

Gianluigi Buffon has issued an apology to English referee Michael Oliver for his behaviour during and after Juventus’ Champions League quarter-final defeat by Real Madrid and said that he will accept a ban from Uefa if they choose to sanction him.

Buffon, who on Thursday announced that he will play his final game for Juventus this weekend but is reconsidering retirement after receiving “interesting proposals”, was sent-off by Oliver in the dying minutes of the last month’s Champions League quarter-final second leg.

With Juventus on course to take the tie to extra-time, Oliver awarded a penalty following a foul from Medhi Benatia on Lucas Vazquez, to which Buffon reacted furiously and earned himself a red card. Former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was brought on for the penalty, but Cristiano Ronaldo scored it to send Madrid through to the semi-finals via a 4-3 aggregate victory.

Buffon then spoke after the match to describe Oliver as an “animal” and claim he had “a rubbish bin instead of a heart”.

With Uefa investigating Buffon’s behaviour, the Italian goalkeeper used his press conference on Thursday to apologise to Oliver and accept that he went over the edge with what he said – though he still disputes the decision to send him off.

“If I saw the referee again, I would give him a hug and say that he should have taken more time with that decision,” said Buffon.

“With the feelings, emotions and disappointment of the situation, I behaved in a way that was not usual for me. After that match, I went beyond the limits with the things I said about the referee and I apologise for that.”

Uefa announced last week that they are investigating Buffon’s comments to the media about Oliver, which led to the referee and his wife receiving death threats and aggressive phone calls.

“To award such a doubtful, or super doubtful penalty, just ahead of the final whistle and destroy the work of a team who gave absolutely everything you have to have a rubbish bin instead of a heart,” Buffon had said. “You need to be prepared for a game like this. You have to watch the first leg and see that a similar foul was not punished with a penalty for Juventus in Turin.

“And especially you need personality to referee a game like this. If you don’t have personality, you better watch the game from the stands with your wife and your kids while eating fries. What did I say to him while I was protesting? I could say everything in that moment because when you take such decision in a certain moment of the game it means you don’t know what sport is.

“A human being cannot decide the elimination of a team with such decision. When I don’t feel that I’m good enough, I put myself in a corner. He should do the same. It’s a matter of sensibility. It means you don’t know where you are, which teams are playing, you don’t know shit.

“If you have the cynicism to award a penalty like that in the 93rd minute, you are not a man, you are an animal.”

 

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