Royle shock at Collina snub

BBC pundit and former England striker Joe Royle is amazed Pierluigi Collina has not been given the Euro 2004 final to referee, writes Derek Davis.And Royle believes supporters are directing their anger in the wrong place by heaping blame for England's exit at Swiss referee Urs Meier's door.

BBC pundit and former England striker Joe Royle is amazed Pierluigi Collina has not been given the Euro 2004 final to referee, writes Derek Davis.

And Royle believes supporters are directing their anger in the wrong place by heaping blame for England's exit at Swiss referee Urs Meier's door.

German official Markus Merk will take charge of the final on Sunday at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon, while Italy's Collina and Sweden's Anders Frisk have been given semi-final games.

Merk has been working for 16 years in the Bundesliga and his career highlights include the 1992 Olympics (in Barcelona), the opening game of Euro 2000 and one of the semi-finals, and the Champions' League final in Manchester.


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But Royle is among many who believes Collina should have been handed the honour.

He said "I'm amazed he didn't get it. Collina is seen by virtually everyone as the best around and is at the top of the game."

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Had the Italian got the job, in what is his last major tournament before the mandatory retirement age of 45, he would have had the clean sweep of doing the 1996 Olympic final, the 1999 Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Manchester United, the 2002 World Cup final and then the Euro 2004 decider.

Collina, who handled the tournament opener between Portugal and Greece, will instead take on Thursday's semi-final between the Greeks and the Czech Republic at the Estadio do Dragao.

Tomorrow's semi between Portugal and Holland at Lisbon's Estadio Jose Alvalade will be officiated by Frisk who governed the Euro 2000 final between Italy and France.

Royle said months ago in his regular EADT column that Collina should be invited to referee in the Premiership now that he has to retire from taking charge of games in Italy.

That call has now been widely taken up with many top managers asking for the possibility to be explored.

The Blues boss, who worked with Suffolk-based John Motson during England games for the BBC, was commentating when Portugal knocked out Sven-Goran Eriksson's men and even though he believes Meier got the decision wrong to disallow Sol Campbell's effort, the vitriol which has followed is undeserved.

He said: "We should not be blaming the referee for England going out of the tournament.

"The simple truth is England did not deserve to win.

"It is clutching at straws if fans think it is anything to do with him."

Royle believes the tournament is so wide open even the Greeks could come through and win it.

He said: "I don't know who will win now. The tournament continues to astound me and the way it is going anyone can win it.

"The Dutch played the best football for 45 minutes before going on to lose to the Czechs. I have enjoyed the way the Czechs have played while I'm not sure Portugal have got any goalscorers.

"Holland have the players but I'm still not sure they will win it.

"Nobody mentioned the Greeks which is probably why they have gone on to do so well, but they should be held in the highest regard."

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