Roma have described their controversial Champions League exit as an “absolute joke” and demanded UEFA introduce Video Assistant Referees (VARs) into the competition as soon as possible.
Roma chairman James Palotta and director of football Monchi joined their voices to the chorus of those calling for VAR to be added to the Champions League following their side’s semi-final defeat to Liverpool.
VAR has already been implemented in Serie A, but is not in place for the Champions League and UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has already announced the the competition will not utilise it for next season either.
Questions over VAR’s benefits were raised following Juventus’ elimination at the hands of Real Madrid in the quarter-finals as a late penalty saw the Serie A champions furious second-leg comeback fall short.
And now Roma feel aggrieved as well, as a Trent Alexander-Arnold handball was left uncalled in the second half in Wednesday’s (Thursday AEST) second leg semi-final at Stadio Olimpico, which despite Roma winning 4-2 on the night saw them lose out 7-6 on aggregate.
Replays also suggested that Roma were incorrectly pulled up for an offside call that would have likely resulted in a second-half penalty, though they did get a late spot-kick after a questionable handball decision against Liverpool’s Ragnar Klavan.
And chairman Palotta has had enough, declaring it a “joke” that the technology is not used for this type of competition in the aftermath of Slovenian referee, Damir Skomina.
“It’s absolutely clear that VAR is needed in the Champions League because you just can’t let stuff like this go,” Palotta told reporters.
“You can all look at it yourself on the film. I know it’s difficult to ref, but it’s really embarrassing when we lose on aggregate like that. By the way, it should have been red card, which would have been 10 men in the 63rd minute.
“Again, Liverpool’s a great team – congratulations going forward. But if we don’t get VAR in Champions League stuff like this is an absolute joke.”
Former Sevilla director of football Monchi agreed, citing the Juventus situation as another example and calling for Italian football to stand up a demand change.
“We conceded a goal that was offside in the first leg, here we had two penalties not given, one of which was a clear red card,” Monchi told Mediaset Premium. “It’s time to raise our voices, not just Roma either, as Juventus suffered the same against Real Madrid.
“Italian football has to raise its voice, because what we saw tonight was shocking. It’s playing with the hearts of all the fans.
“I don’t understand why VAR is not used in the most important club competition in the world. I don’t get it. There are still mistakes, but many fewer than we see otherwise.
“It’s not just damage on an economic level, but also for the passion and hard work. The lads in the locker room were really angry, as we gave 100 per cent in the second half and were excellent.
“We must introduce VAR in the Champions League, because it’s fundamental. I don’t know why UEFA don’t want it. I really think it’s necessary, because fans might joke that the final with VAR would be Bayern Munich-Roma, but it’s actually true.”
However manager Eusebio Di Francesco voiced frustration with his own team as well as the referee, as he feels their mistakes ultimately led to their downfall.
“I don’t raise my voice with UEFA, that is for the club,” Di Francesco said. “I have to raise my voice with the players, who have to believe and push forward if there are a few minutes left and seek another goal. I have anger and even more regret, because I do believe we could’ve done it and we wasted time.
“We mustn’t stand there arguing with the referee, he’s not going to change his mind, so we just played into Liverpool’s hands. That is what I can do something about and makes me angry.
“Obviously, 20-25 minutes from the end, a red card and penalty could’ve really had Liverpool on the ropes. However, we made mistakes too and those are what cost us.”