BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Scottish referee Willie Collum has become the centre of attention after the European Super Cup final following a foul-mouthed rant by Barcelona superstar Gerard Pique.
The controversial whistler, so often the subject of scorn in the domestic game, was handed the prestigious assignment by Uefa and oversaw a sensational 5-4 win for the Catalans over Sevilla in Tblisi after extra-time.
However, it was an angry tirade by Pique which made all the headlines in the aftermath, with the Barca stopper clearly picked up by the television cameras, roaring: “six refs and you still can’t see it? For ****’* sake.”
The tongue-lashing for the refereeing team came after the 28-year-old appeared to be struck in the face by a flailing elbow from Sevilla attacker Ciro Immobile.
As well as Collum, four other officials – Francis Connor, Graham Chambers, Bobby Madden and Kevin Clancy – were Scottish, aided by Irishman Damien MacGraith.
Pique’s attack quickly went viral online, with videos of the incident and parody pictures taking social media by storm.
The notoriously card-happy Collum awarded Sevilla a second-half penalty as they dramatically clawed back a 4-1 deficit to take the encounter to extra-time, only for Pedro to settle the contest.
And the referee’s performance was described as “scandalous” in one of Spain’s top daily newspapers, Mundo Deportivo.
Accusing Collum of failing to spot two Sevilla handball’s in the box and wrongly disallowing a Luis Suarez goal, one journalist described his performance as “a full-blown heist”.
Nevertheless, Collum, who will be back in SPFL action when Motherwell host Aberdeen this Saturday, described the assignment as the greatest honour of his career.
Collum told UEFA.com: “Sometimes you’ll hear referees saying that finals should be treated like any other match but this is special. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
“Without a doubt it’s my biggest achievement. For a small country like Scotland, to have a referee in the Super Cup is tremendous.
“It’s quite sentimental for me as well because Hugh Dallas has been a coach and a mentor to me and he was the last Scottish referee to officiate a European final, in 2002.”