Buffon criticised over referee comments

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been branded a bad example to youngsters by the head of Italy's refereeing association after comments he made about AC Milan's controversially disallowed goal in Saturday's match.

Milan forward Sulley Muntari's first-half goal was not awarded even though replays clearly showed the ball had crossed the line before Buffon clawed it away. Milan, 1-0 ahead at the time, were held 1-1 in the Serie A top-of-the-table clash.

Buffon later said: "I wasn't aware at the time of my position or of Muntari's shot. Afterwards, I saw in the pictures that the ball had gone in," he said.

"But I must be frank and say that if I had realised, I would not have helped the referee."

Marcello Nicchi, head of the national referee's association (AIA), said he was "disappointed with Buffon, captain of my country's national team."

"He has said things which it would have been better to avoid and is not a good example for the youngsters," he said in a radio interview.

"Everyone has the right to his opinion but you have to be careful given that youngsters follow the examples of champions."

Nicchi also questioned the current role of the fourth official, saying it was "wasted."

"He is no longer good for anything except to stand guard coaches," said Nicchi. He added that goal line technology would help but that "it was not an Italian problem."

"We see too many ungratifying things in football," added Nicchi. "When the ball comes into the air, there are five players all tugging and pushing, everybody complains... there is continual protesting, I don't know what is happening to the players who won't accept anything."

Buffon remained defiant. "I reiterate exactly what I said on Saturday evening," he told reporters. "The respect and esteem in which I am held by my team-mates is enough for me.

"I don't have to justify myself, people can write what they think, I repeat that in that situation I didn't see anything."