UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina does not believe there was any malice in the tackle from France midfielder Dimitri Payet that prematurely ended Cristiano Ronaldo's Euro 2016 final.
Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo limped off during the first half of Portugal's eventual 1-0 extra-time triumph with a knee problem, failing to overcome the effects of Payet's early challenge.
The West Ham player went unpunished and Portugal boss Fernando Santos felt Payet should have received a card – not necessarily a view Collina subscribes to.
"The entry of Payet, it was a foul," the former leading referee told Gazzetta dello Sport. "He deserved a yellow? It is debatable, but the dynamic of the battle – knee to knee – it was accidental.
"It is an unfortunate episode. Payet did not want to hurt him."
Euro 2016 was a tournament pleasingly free of refereeing controversies and Collina reflected on a job well done from the men in the middle.
"We received so many compliments, for example, the words of praise expressed by leading coaches like [Alex] Ferguson and [Arsene] Wenger," he said, before explaining that officials were given breakdowns of teams' expected tactical approaches to help with their game management.
"We introduced an important innovation: to know the schemes of the teams and the technical characteristics of the players, which is critical to predict situations that might otherwise take you by surprise – a condition that often leads to error.
"On this point, we have made a quantum leap thanks to two match analysts, Cristiano Ciardelli and Gianvito Piglionico, both coaches with UEFA A Licenses. Each nation that qualified for Euro 2016 was studied in detail."
Collina was also pleased to see low numbers of bookings for dissent and simulation, along with the solitary straight red card for Republic of Ireland defender Shane Duffy coming for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity as opposed to dangerous play or violent conduct.
"[Among] the total of 205, there were only nine yellows for dissent and one for simulation," he added. "And again, one direct red in France v Ireland due to a clear goal chance denied. It means that we thought of play and very little of anything else. Even dangerous interventions have been minimal."
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