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Sergio Gonella (Italian pronunciation: [ˈsɛrdʒo ɡoˈnɛlla]; 23 May 1933 – 19 June 2018) was an Italian businessman (Bank Manager) and a noted football referee. He was the first Italian appointed to referee the FIFA World Cup final, which occurred when he took charge of the 1978 final between hosts Argentina and the Netherlands.[1] He is one of only two persons (the other being the Swiss Gottfried Dienst) to have refereed both the European Championship final and the World Cup Final. In 2013, he was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.[2]

Sergio Gonella
Born (1933-05-23)23 May 1933
Asti, Italy
Died 19 June 2018(2018-06-19) (aged 85)
Other occupation Bank manager
Years League Role
1964-1978 Serie A Referee
Years League Role
1972-1978 FIFA-listed Referee

Referee careerEdit

Gonella's professional career began in 1965 when he debuted in the Italian Serie A, earning an early reputation as being very strict and impartial, after awarding 7 penalties in the first 7 games of the 1965-1966 season. In 1972, he was promoted to UEFA and received the important Mauro Award in Italy. In 1974 refereed the Italian Cup final between Bologna and Palermo. In 1975, he refereed the Super Cup final match. At international level, he refereed in the 1976 European Championship final between Czechoslovakia and West Germany. He also later refereed in the 1978 FIFA World Cup, after which he retired, having refereed 175 matches in Serie A.[3] From 1998 to 2000 he was also president of the Italian Referee Association (AIA) and member of the UEFA Arbitration Commission between 1998 and 2000.

Gonella garnered media attention when he delayed the start of the 1978 World Cup final. This occurred when the Argentinians protested an arm bandage worn by Dutch defender René van de Kerkhof. The Dutch team argued that the bandage was passed by FIFA and had already been worn by Van de Kerkhof during earlier matches in the tournament, and they threatened to walk off the field. Finally an extra layer of padding was applied to the bandage as a solution, and the match was started.[4]


  1. ^ "Nicola Rizzoli to referee Final". 11 July 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Hall of fame, 10 new entry: con Vialli e Mancini anche Facchetti e Ronaldo" [Hall of fame, 10 new entries: with Vialli and Mancini also Facchetti and Ronaldo] (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  3. ^ Sergio Gonella page at World Referee website
  4. ^ World Cup Football coverage at The Guardian website
Sporting positions
Sergio Gonella
Preceded by
UEFA Euro 1972 Final
Ferdinand Marschall
UEFA Euro 1976 Final Referee Succeeded by
UEFA Euro 1980 Final
Nicolae Rainea
Preceded by
1974 FIFA World Cup Final
Jack Taylor
1978 FIFA World Cup Final Referee Succeeded by
1982 FIFA World Cup Final
Arnaldo Cézar Coelho