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Earlier in the week, Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli was accused in two separate interviews by a major media chief in Italy of being biased towards Juventus. Rizzoli, who obviously has a reputation to protect as someone who has refereed finals in the World Cup, Champions League, Europa League, and taken the whistle for numerous other huge matches in his career, has decided to file a lawsuit over it.
In one interview, it was said that Rizzoli should not referee at Juventus Stadium, and that while he rarely makes mistakes, he "does make them in one direction." The accusation was much more direct in a second interview, when it was said that it would be "mathematically predictable" that Rizzoli would be at the center of "a refereeing error in Turin in favor of Juventus."
That's pretty inflammatory stuff, all but accusing one of the top-rated referees in Europe of engaging in match-fixing, and Rizzoli was obviously infuriated over it. Now he, with the backing of the Italian Referee's Association, is filing suit over defamation of character in defense of his name and reputation.
Rizzoli had been set to referee the Juventus-Napoli match, a game with major title implications in Serie A, but a calf injury forced him to step aside for Daniele Orsato.
Fine list of the day
Kidderminster's fine list, courtesy of the @thetimes pic.twitter.com/CSkf7cwJk5— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) February 12, 2016
I don't know about you, but it doesn't take a £5 fine to keep me from wearing another person's flip flops.
In the news
Louis Van Gaal thinks that Paul Scholes turned the Manchester United fan base against him. (Guardian)
The Adam Johnson sexual assault trial is underway, and prosecutors have said that he "abused his position in society" to lure the 15-year-old girl in question to him. (BBC)
Chelsea striker Diego Costa broke his nose in training, and will be playing in a mask this weekend. (ESPN FC)
Napoli star forward Gonzalo Higuain, he of the 24 goals in 24 games in Serie A this year, turned down a move to Chelsea in January because they wouldn't guarantee him playing time. (La Gazzetta dello Sport)
Zinedine Zidane says that Real Madrid won't be rushing Gareth Bale back onto the pitch and will wait for him to actually get healthy. (AS)
You should be reading
Barnay Ronay makes the argument that the Premier League's biggest fairy tale story isn't one at all. (Guardian)
James Horncastle lays out the case for this weekend's must-see match being Juventus vs. Napoli in a Serie A title clash. (ESPN FC)
The Bundesliga shared some must-know information about new Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann, who at just 28 is the youngest-ever manager in league history. (bundesliga.de)
What to watch on Friday (click for listings, all times ET)
Bundesliga: Mainz 05 vs. Schalke 04 (2:30 p.m.): The never-ending chaos of the Bundesliga has Schalke back in fourth place with a chance to take third -- but seventh-place Mainz are just three points behind the königsblauen and have home field advantage on their side.
Serie A: Carpi vs. Roma (2:45 p.m.): Roma have been in fine form since Luciano Spalletti came back to the capital, and they've got a chance to pull back into the top three in Serie A with a match against a team in the relegation zone.
Primeira Liga: Benfica vs. Porto (3:30 p.m.): The biggest rivalry in Portugal is back, though it currently finds Porto struggling six points behind joint-first Benfica.
Liga MX: Three games (8:30, 9:30, 10:30 p.m.): We're still too early in the Clausura season to know what the title race looks like yet, but with Club America, Veracruz, Toluca, and Monterrey in action tonight, there will be plenty of action to watch.