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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Collina's resignation is refused
Pierluigi Collina
The head of Italy's referees has refused to accept Pierluigi Collina's resignation and asked him to reconsider his decision to quit.

Collina quit after his decision to sign a deal with AC Milan's team sponsor was seen as a conflict of interest.

Tullio Lanese, president of the Italian Referees Association, said: "I will call for a meeting to take place in order to reject Collina's resignation.

"What happened is a surprise, nobody expected it," added Lanese.

The 45-year-old Collina had been accused by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) of a conflict of interest after accepting a sponsorship deal.

Opel, who also sponsor AC Milan, were to pay Collina 545,000 per year and the FIGC told Collina he would only be able to referee second division games.

"After 28 years I've decided to hand in my resignation," said Collina.

"People must believe in a referee. In the end, we have all lost out."

I hope he will reconsider because Italian football and world football would otherwise lose a great referee
Juventus coach Fabio Capello

"I have slept less these last few nights than on the eve of the World Cup final.

"For me it wouldn't have been a problem to referee in Serie B, but either they (the FIGC) have faith in us referees or they don't.

"If they don't, then we have to go. Without trust we cannot move forward."

Lanese is one of a growing band of influential people in Italian football who have added their voices to a campaign to keep Collina on.

Franco Carraro, president of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said: "I'm a fan of Collina and I'm grateful for what he's done for Italian football. I'm happy that Lanese will not accept his resignation."

Italian national team coach Marcello Lippi said: "To lose someone like him is a big blow" while Fabio Capello - coach of Milan's big rivals Juventus - said: "I think Collina has felt offended and for that reason taken a decision I really didn't expect.

"A man's integrity doesn't depend on a sponsor.

"I hope he will reconsider because Italian football and world football would otherwise lose a great referee."

Collina, who has been voted the world's best referee five times, took charge of the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany.

He was due to retire in the summer but the Italian football association extended the maximum age for referees to 46 to accommodate him for a further year.

Collina will replaced for the 2006 World Cup qualifier between Spain and Serbia and Montenegro on 7 September by England's Graham Poll.


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