Gianluigi Buffon on Thursday apologised for his referee rant after Juventus’s Champions League quarter-final exit against Real Madrid last month.
The 40-year-old has been charged by UEFA over his comments about referee Michael Oliver, who awarded the Spaniards a late penalty and dismissed the Juve captain.
Cristiano Ronaldo slotted home the penalty to give Real a 4-3 aggregate victory after the Serie A champions had staged a remarkable comeback to wipe out a 3-0 first-leg deficit at the Santiago Bernabeu.
A fuming Buffon had raged that Englishman Oliver had a “rubbish bin for a heart” and should “sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, having your drink and eating your crisps”.
European football’s governing body said the case will be dealt with on May 31.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday to announce his Juventus departure after 17 years at the club, Buffon apologised for his words after the incident in question – but continues to insist that Oliver got the call wrong on the night.
“After that match, I went beyond the limits with the things I said about the referee and I apologise for that.
“I am extremely sorry about that, as over 23 years of Champions League career, I was never sent off or suspended, so I feel that I behaved fairly and in a sporting manner with everyone.
“If I saw the referee again, I would give him a hug and say that he should have taken more time with that decision in such an important game for us and for me.
“With the feelings, emotions and disappointment of the situation, I behaved in a way that was not usual for me.
“The referee gave me a red card — which I still don’t understand — and you (the press) rather than focusing on my comments, should look at behaviour from the official that was not really consistent.
“A few days later I was sorry to have offended the referee, because at the end of the day he is a human being who does a very difficult job.”
Buffon will bring his Juve career to an end this weekend with a Serie A match against Verona at the Allianz Stadium, where he will receive the adulation of the Bianconeri crowd for one final occasion.
With his playing career very much up in the air right now, however, that red card may yet prove to be his last ever action in the Champions League as a player.
© Agence France-Presse (with additional edits from Simon O’Keefe)