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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Di Bello Show

Updated: Apr 6

Game 27, Serie A

Friday, March 1, 2024

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Lazio Milan 0-1


Di Bello gifts the three points to Milan

Official SS Lazio photo

It is difficult to write a report on a match decided by the referee, Marco Di Bello. A shameful performance by the ref who has shown more than once in his career that he is not a Lazio friend. It just seems pointless writing about the game as if it was a real football match, it wasn’t. This is why.

What happened in Lazio Milan

In the 12th minute Mike Maignan and Alessandro Florenzi had a misunderstanding and the Milan goalkeeper, after having hit the ball, slid on the wet grass and smashed into Taty Castellanos. No penalty. Absurd decision. This would have been a foul in every square centimetre of the pitch, no matter who was involved.

In the 30th minute, Lazio on the counterattack, Luis Alberto saw Felipe Anderson on the right completely unmarked and tried a long pass, intercepted by … Di Bello. Ball back to the Spaniard who tried again, and again the ref was in the way. Great defensive move by the man in yellow.

Florenzi repeatedly fouled Mattia Zaccagni in the first half. No yellow card.

In the 57th minute, Castellanos got hit in the face and collapsed to the ground. Di Bello had his back to what had happened but Luis Alberto gestured that Lazio had a man down. Di Bello turned around, looked and was about to blow his whistle. In the meantime Luca Pellegrini was waiting for the ball to go out. Di Bello saw this. Christian Pulisic, who must realise that Pellegrini was voluntarily letting the ball go out, ignored all body language possible and unsportingly went for the ball and tried to run off, then stopped with a foul by Pellegrini. Second yellow card for the Lazio left back.

Di Bello should have stopped play since when a player gets hit on the head play must be stopped. He did not see it. The fourth official did. He did not communicate it to the ref. Di Bello turned around and saw Taty on the ground. He was about to stop play but did not. When Pellegrini fouled Pulisic he should have understood what was happening and avoided the second yellow card. He did not.

Three minutes later Florenzi was booked for a normal foul. Looked like Di Bello was trying to make amends.

Milan in the 88th minute scored with Okafor. But before the goal, Ciro Immobile was fouled by Malick Thiaw. Goal should have been disallowed.

Fourth minute of injury time. Adam Marusic put a hand on Rafael Leao as he was jumping up and the ref gave Milan a free kick. The Lazio defender did not agree with the decision and gestured his dissent. Di Bello showed him a red card. It is unknown if Marusic insulted him.

If Adam was sent off for the gesture, I expect Di Bello to show red cards every time any player even raises an eyebrow in disagreement. He obviously has never done so in the past and I doubt he will in the future. If Marusic insulted him, this could be the only time Di Bello got it right.

Sixth minute of overtime. Matteo Guendouzi went off on the counterattack but Pulisic grabbed his arm and did not let go, stopping the Frenchman who, after Di Bello gave Lazio the foul, pushed the American. Red card for Guendouzi.

At this point, seeing the damage already done, a ref stops here. He could have given the Frenchman a yellow card, but even here it would have been too much. No way was it red.

Di Bello and Lazio

Together with Davide Massa and Fabio Maresca, Di Bello is one of those refs who always have problems with Lazio, or shall we say, when it comes to refereeing the Biancocelesti, they generally have a bad day in the office. In the club’s more recent history there were also Paolo Tagliavento, Gianluca Rocchi and Piero Giacomelli but fortunately they have retired.

Like in last year’s game against Juventus when he did not send off Manuel Locatelli for a very dangerous foul on Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, or Juan Cuadrado for multiple bookable offences. Or in 2017 when he denied Keita Balde two penalties in Lazio Inter and sent him off after the second foul. Or when, as a linesman, gave Roma a penalty despite Kevin Strootman faking being hit. Or when, as VAR official, he did not indicate a Torino hand ball to Giacomelli but instead got the ref to send Immobile off.

What is happening in the Serie A

A month ago the President of the Italian Football Federation, Gabriele Gravina, proposed a reduction of the number of teams in Serie A from 20 to 18, and a more liquidity orientated rule to determine the clubs' financial state of health. Both suggestions had the backing of Milan, Inter, Juventus and Roma. It is hardly surprising. These four teams are those who would love to play in the Super League and as a consequence a few less games would be very welcome. Furthermore, Gravina’s idea that the more liquidity a club has, the better they are, is complete nonsense. Basically, the highly indebted clubs, such as the ones just mentioned, are those that always need a considerable amount of cash, hence the ruling would favour the more indebted clubs not the ones that are economically in better shape.

Both suggestions were rejected by all the other Serie A clubs. Not only. Apparently the Italian League of Serie A wants to break away from the Federation and create something similar to the premier league. This news was reported by Italian newspaper Repubblica on the morning before Lazio Milan.

Was Di Bello’s refereeing a consequence? Or just a coincidence?

In the past

As Lazio fans we have seen and experienced everything, from Lazio Napoli in 1962 with a goal not given after the ball had gone in and then out through a hole in the net, to Gino Menicucci in 1983, the penalty on Marcelo Salas not given in Fiorentina Lazio 1999, and many other controversial refereeing decisions.

But this was worse.

Who played for Lazio

Provedel, Marusic, Gila, Romagnoli, Pellegrini, Guendouzi, Vecino (77' Cataldi), Luis Alberto (60' Hysaj), Felipe Anderson, Castellanos (60' Immobile), Zaccagni (66' Isaksen).

Substitutes: Mandas, Renzetti, Casale, Lazzari, Ruggeri, Kamada, Andrè Anderson, Pedro.

Manager: Sarri


Who played for Milan


Maignan, Florenzi (64' Calabria), Kjaer (81' Tomori), Gabbia (81' Thiaw), Theo Hernandez; Adli (71' Okafor), Bennacer (64` Reijnders), Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek, Leao; Giroud, Di Bello.

Substitutes: Sportiello, Mirante, Chukwueze, Terracciano, Jimenez, Musah.

Manager: Pioli


Goal: 88’ Okafor

Booked: Pellegrini (L), Florenzi (M), Adli (M), Immobile (L), Gabbia (M), Theo Hernandez (M), Hysaj (L), Leao (M)


Sent off: Pellegrini, Marusic, Guendouzi


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