A 23-year-old from Mestre was stopped for posting videos explaining the rules and commenting on game actions. Regret: “The Hague should take advantage of social networks to get closer to fans”
February 20 – Milan
A dusty whistle and a couple of faded tags. Maybe one day they will come in handy, but for the moment there is a sentence that speaks for itself: “Suspension from activity until June 2024”. Alessandro Iuliano, referee of the Mestre Section, will not be able to return to the field before the summer of next year. In May 2022 he was punished with an inhibition measure for 5 months, another 18 were added in November. The reason? The 23-year-old violated the rules of procedure in The Hague by posting… videos on TikTok.
Alessandro’s story is the same as that of many young whistleblowers: as a kid he preferred the fluorescent uniform to the joy of a Eurogol, at 16 he enrolled in a course and in 2016 he started refereeing. The apprenticeship is endless: Beginners, very young, junior and third category, Alessandro arrives in Prima and then stops due to the pandemic: “I was about to go to Promotion, I was stopped at the most beautiful moment – explains Iuliano -. The lockdown, however, it has allowed us to appreciate the value of social networks”. In 2020, Iuliano trains to keep fit and studies for the exams of the Faculty of Philosophy. In his spare time he enjoys TikTok and, at the suggestion of a friend, he opens his own personal account with the nickname “Arbitrino”.
Alessandro begins to devise some original formats: he recovers on the pitch and comments on his performances, dispenses advice for aspiring referees and… clarifies the most discussed episodes of cartel matches: “During the European Championship, I received some indications from the managers of the my section. They told me to go easy on personal opinions and I took note”. Iuliano tries to limit himself to explaining the rules to be applied, without commenting on individual concrete cases. His format works, his followers are becoming more numerous: “Today I am followed by 180,000 users on TikTok and 26,000 on Instagram. I receive many messages, the guys are curious to know my path and want clarifications on what, perhaps, is happened on the last day of Serie A”.
Iuliano’s boat is sailing at full speed, but in the meantime it fills up with water and the captain pays no attention to it: “From one day to the next, I received a notice via the digital platform in The Hague – continues Alessandro -. I discovered that an investigation procedure had been initiated against me, but the reasons were not even explained”. For the baby whistle begins a real odyssey. “I was summoned to the Veneto offices of the FIGC. I met a prosecutor from The Hague, who wanted to know how much following I had and why I published those videos on social media. For me it’s a real passion, a channel to get in touch with people who have the same interests as me”. The OK arrives from Rome to start the process, Iuliano appears before the regional Disciplinary Commission and is sanctioned with 5 months of suspension. “And to think that the prosecutor had asked for eight…”.
The return to the field was scheduled for last October, but Alessandro was stopped again: the most recent provision provides for 18 months of stoppage. “I don’t contest the decision, because there is a regulation that speaks for itself” – explains Iuliano, who posted the text of the violated article on social media. Members are not allowed “to make public statements in any form, even via internet sites, which pertain to direct tenders (…) by any member, unless expressly authorized by the President of The Hague (…)”. And one cannot “issue public statements in any form, pertaining to the technical and associative aspects of The Hague”. The 23-year-old, in addition to commenting on Serie A episodes, told every facet of life as a referee on his channel, from training courses to the various steps to follow on match day.
Having received the blow of the new suspension, Alessandro returned to posting videos on TikTok: “I decided to tell what is happening to me, because it is right that everyone knows how the world of referees is structured – concludes Iuliano -. Today social networks are fundamentals, The Hague could exploit them to confront the fans. A barrier still exists between the fans and the referees, which with the internet can finally be torn down. By now I have nothing to lose: I know dozens of people who share my ideas and I they give us the strength to carry on”. The return to the field today seems very distant, but the TikTok referee does not want to give up: “I know I am seen as a problem. But I am sure that, tomorrow, I could prove to be a precious resource …”.
February 20, 2023 (change February 20, 2023 | 5:34 pm)
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