After a month to reflect, Gianluigi Buffon has admitted he was wrong to hound referee Michael Oliver following Juventus’ quarter-final exit in the Champions League earlier this season.
Buffon was shown a straight red card in injury time of Juve’s second leg at Real Madrid after raging at Oliver’s decision to give the Spaniards a dramatic penalty.
The teams were heading for extra time in Madrid – with Juve leading 3-0 – when English referee Oliver ruled that defender Medhi Benatia had fouled Lucas Vazquez inside the six yard area.
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon launched an attack on Michael Oliver back in April
As a result, Buffon verbally and physically confronted Oliver. He was then sent off before Ronaldo scored from the spot to send Madrid through.
In post-match interviews, the 40-year-old Italian great continued his abuse of Oliver and questioned his ability as a referee as well his lack of heart and compassion.
He has subsequently been charged by UEFA for breaching its ‘general principles of conduct’. Following the incident Oliver and wife Lucy were offered police support in the wake of the incident, after both were targeted by social media trolls.
And speaking about his emotions on that day, Buffon was remosrseful albeit still frustrated with Oliver’s decision.
‘I think that’s only right [facing an UEFA charge], as it’s normal my behaviour – not on the field, as I still don’t understand why the referee sent me off – and you rather than focusing on my comments, should look at behaviour from the official that was not really consistent,’ he said at a press conference on Thursday morning called to confirm the end of his playing career at Juve.
‘I said a few days later that I went over the line and that’s evident. I am extremely sorry about that, as over 23 years of Champions League career, I was never sent off or suspended, so I feel that I behaved fairly and in a sporting manner with everyone.
‘It was a particular situation and a few days later I confessed the Buffon of that day, with the sentiments and feelings of that night, couldn’t help but say those things.
‘A few days later, clearly, I was sorry to have ‘offended’ the referee, because at the end of the day he is a human being who does a very difficult job.
‘If I’d seen him two days later, I’d have hugged Michael Oliver and apologised, but also said he could’ve been a bit calmer in such an important game for us and for me.
‘Nothing more than that. I am not someone who carries rancour.’
UEFA will deal with Buffon’s case on May 31.