Mattia Destro’s Roman Tragedy
In just seven minutes of play after coming on as a substitute for Francesco Totti, Mattia Destro earned a yellow card, scored his first goal and then earned a red card for AS Roma on Sunday night as his team thrashed the visiting side from Palermo 4-1.
Destro controversially picked up his first caution soon after stepping on the pitch midway through the second half when he slid to make a challenge and got both ball and man. Moments later, Destro’s clever run into the final third was rewarded by an equally superb through-ball from Erik Lamela that put Destro in alone on Palermo goalkeeper Samir Ujkani.
Destro rounded the charging keeper with ease and then slotted the ball in between the uprights for a composed finish that put Roma up 4-0.
By contrast, Destro was all but composed in his celebration when he allowed his emotions to momentarily cloud his judgement. As he ecstatically began to remove his jersey, his face showed a flicker of realization and he quickly struggled to pull the shirt back down while his teammates surrounded and embraced him in a congratulatory frenzy.
Though the jersey was never fully off of Destro’s body – the collar not rising past his chin – he had exposed enough of his undershirt to capture the referee’s attention, who eagerly accepted the opportunity to present Destro with his second yellow card of the match, and the red card that must follow.
Destro was ejected just seven minutes after coming on and angrily displayed his frustrations as he made his painful exit into the tunnel to the dressing rooms.
His spectacular cameo was the subject of a landslide of opinions on the online Twitter world as fans lamented either Destro’s ‘foolishness’ or referee Andrea De Marco’s ‘ineptitude and lack of judgement’.
The incident calls this FIFA rule back into question, as it has been the subject of scrutiny many times in the past. Many fans call it ‘stupid’ when a player is shown a second yellow card for removing his jersey to celebrate a goal, while others defend the players claiming that their sense of judgement is skewed by the emotions that accompany scoring an important goal in a tense contest.
In any case, the rule has been established long ago and has not changed for years. Players must be professional enough to understand that they are always prohibited from removing their uniforms while on the pitch.
While referees will always be criticized for poor performances and erroneous decisions, they must not be made to feel guilty for upholding a FIFA rule in this way.
If De Marco had decided to turn a blind eye to the incident out of pity for the regretful Destro, what would this say about his integrity as a referee in this post-Calciopoli Serie A?
Roma will now be without Destro for their derby clash against city rivals S.S. Lazio next weekend. Surely Roma coach Zdenek Zeman will not blame the referee in this case.
Destro will have learned an important lesson.
Follow Riccardo Lo Monaco on Twitter: @kicknut