A bit of a weird one from Italy for you this morning … BallinEurope contributing writer Enrico Cellini reports on a symbolic protest within his country’s national basketball league which subsequently saw nearly half the Serie A referees – including the well-esteemed Fabio Facchini, one of two Italians who will be calling games at the 2012 Olympic Games – suspended.

On March 17th and 18th, 19 Serie A referees opted for the orange jerseys they used to wear last season instead of the 2011-2012 grey uniforms. Unlike those NBA teams that go for vintage-style uniforms to reminisce about their roots (and sell some more jerseys at their stores), the old-school fashion displayed by the refs was intended as a clear signal to the Italian Basketball Federation and the basketball world as a whole.

The federation got the signal, did not like it at all, chastised the rebel refs and eventually suspended 15 of them!

The protesting referees wore old jerseys to protest a CIA (the Italian Referees Committee, part of the Italian Basketball Federation) decision not to anticipate the election of a new president as previously requested by the referees’ trade union. Referees called for the new CIA leader to be elected this summer rather than in the midst of the 2012-13 basketball season, claiming this would avoid what an Associazione Italiana Arbitri Pallacanestro statement called no less than a “classic Italian mess we have the right to prevent from happening.”

It is widely speculated the referees’ union does not like the current administration of CIA and wishes to get rid of the current director before the end of his term.

On April 2nd, the Italian Basketball Federation found that the referees’ conduct violated article 2 of the code of justice which prescribes: “…Referees must conduct themselves with loyalty and fairness” and “It is forbidden to publicly express judgments or statements that are detrimental for people or agencies operating within the federation.” The Federation suspended 15 refs for 10 days, which will prevent them from calling the next round of Serie A play.

As the total amount of referees required for a round of Serie A is 24 (eight games times three Bavettas each) and 15 out of 33 are grounded, some refs will have to direct two games of the next round.
The vintage rebels may have gotten their message delivered all right, but it seems that one big fat “classic Italian mess” has just begun.

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