Metallica and the vengeful ref

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RESULTS: Rosario Central 1-1 Atlético Túcuman; Independiente 2-0 Huracán; Chacarita 2-1 Godoy Cruz; River 1-1 Estudiantes; San Lorenzo 3-0 Boca; Tigre 0-3 Vélez; Banfield 1-2 Racing

Metallica are coming to town in January, a month after AC/DC have rocked out River Plate’s Monumental, and self-proclaimed rock ("as long as it's hard rock") fan Juan Sebastián Verón has made sure he has tickets to both gigs.

While Verón and the thousands of other metallers brush up on the Metallica back catalogue till the small hours, perhaps the Estudiantes captain will also spend January – the break between the Apertura and Clausura - praying for the day that never comes: when referees can be trusted.

The season may coming to a close – it’s not nearly half-time in Europe but in Argentina we're close to crowning champions – but for now you can forget golazos, forget tiki tiki, forget Maradona (OK, that one might be impossible), forget club presidential elections, forget the fact that Banfield lost on Sunday night blowing the title race open, or that Boca won’t be in next year’s Libertadores Cup.

AFA are concerned with just one issue – their seek-and-destroy mission with dodgy refs.

Last week, Aníbal Hay was relieved of his post at AFA, where his remit was to work in PR with international referees visiting the country.

A tape that landed on the desks of AFA last week suggests that he didn’t limit himself to working with the visiting men in black.

According to La Red, the tape is a recording of a conversation between Hay and top flight referee Cristiano Faraoni, in which Faraoni was told to favour San Lorenzo on the opening day of the season when the Ciclón took on Atlético Tucumán.

San Lorenzo won that match 3-1, the Tucumanos’ keeper was clearly fouled in one of the goals they conceded and they were also denied a penalty. Hmm.

AFA president Julio Grondona dismissed the furore on Sunday, telling Crítica that refs "are always being watched closely."

Yet Javier Castrili went further: "The standard of refereeing in Argentina is writing one of its darkest pages," said the former official who wasn’t exactly Prince Charming himself. "They make schoolboy mistakes."

Some would say there’s a reason.

Faraoini-gate isn’t the only case under investigation at AFA – there are believed to be eight other men in the middle who may not be in the middle for much longer.

As far as most fans are concerned, referee Pablo Lunati is the worst offender as the matchday harvester of sorrow.

Headbanger Verón certainly agrees, criticising Lunati and his assistants for disallowing a goal against Racing recently.

The reason that Lunati is unforgiven by fans and footballers alike is not just his terrible decisions and haircut, but how proudly arrogant he is while in charge of games.

Needless to say, Lunati had no problem in jumping into the argument.

"The worst thing about Argentine football is not the refereeing," he said in a recent interview, "but the journalists."

That opinion notwithstanding, Lunati was happy to talk to one of the most respected journalists at one of the best-selling newspapers to get a few things off his chest.

Lunati claims that if it weren’t for his ‘lairy’ attitude, he’d have been in charge of a World Cup game by now.

He says he doesn’t care, although yes, his attitude has got him into fights – "just ask around where I live about how I left them."

He then clarified that “them” referred to the fans who supposedly took him to task about a questionable decision.

Lairy and happy to resort to violence to resolve any problem, Lunati also says that just because other referees do it, doesn’t mean he’ll be so stupid as to award a penalty if there’s only a ‘small’ pull of the shirt in the area.

The advert for Argentine referees doesn’t end there. "I didn’t speak to my dad for eight years, and it certainly wasn’t me that made the first move to fix things."

Let’s hope something’s done soon. Nothing else matters.

See the weekend’s goals, disappointingly not to Metallica but Earth, Wind and Fire, here

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