Maldini: “We can’t keep having rookie referees at San Siro, when VAR is used like this then it does only harm”

Paolo Maldini before Milan-Udinese at Stadio San Siro on February 25, 2022. (

Paolo Maldini came out to publicly criticize the referee after his horror show cost Milan three points against Udinese.

Milan drew Udinese 1-1 last night at San Siro, and while the overall performance of the Rossoneri was hardly an exciting one, it’s impossible to overlook the blatant errors of the referee, Matteo Marchetti, and the team assisting him on VAR.

In the 66′ minute, Destiny Udogie scored using his hand. VAR, for reasons unknown to human kind, failed to see this very obvious, very clear foul, and allowed the goal. And so, like happened against Napoli and Spezia earlier this season, Milan dropped points directly due to errors from referees.

“I’d start with our performance and flaws, we’re not perfect we have a lot of things to improve on. That goes for other teams, too, considering we’re still top of the table even though Inter has two games in hand [they drew Genoa 0-0 so they now have one game in hand],” Director Paolo Maldini told MilanTV after the game. “Our flaws came out and we’re not as sharp as we could be, that’s clear. Both in Salerno and tonight we took the lead, which is perhaps the hardest thing to do, but then we allowed ourselves to be pegged back. That’s the technical analysis of the match.

Matteo Marchetti during Milan-Udinese at Stadio San Siro on February 25, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

“That said, we have a tool which should remove doubts [VAR] but when it’s used like tonight it does only harm and it’s not the first time. It was so obvious, I think, it’s just a question of being careful and understanding football. Whether it’s handball or offside, the person in charge needs to understand football. I think referees are suited for these judgements.

“A third thing, which I’ll later repeat those who need to hear it: Milan is at the top of the table and with all respect for rookies, we can’t keep having them at San Siro. There is a lot of pressure in making your debut at San Siro and it makes refereeing a game more difficult, these games are difficult. And they’re more difficult on your debut.

“Everyone in the football world has had their debut, we all know that some things are just easier with experience. Looking at the game overall, unfortunately the referee wasn’t perfect in his calls because we barely played. It was a difficult game to manage, no doubt, but it’s even more difficult on your debut.”

Destiny Udogie celebrating after scoring with his hand during Milan-Udinese at Stadio San Siro on February 25, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

On the moment: “The mind controls the whole body but sharpness isn’t always an issue of the mind. We have a lot of young players in the squad, and managing the tension is one of the harder things to do. It’s the same issue with a debutant referee, many of our players are competing for a title for the first time. So that might be an issue. An issue which will be solved with experience. If I look back to when I played, I struggled more in bigger games and it was an issue of mental approach.”

On the next games: “I hope that we are lighter of mind against the big teams but I don’t know, we’ll see. We’ll prepare to play the Coppa Italia as it deserves to be played: it’s a semi-final against Inter, a fundamental game to try winning a title.”

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