Italys most famous football referee Pierluigi Collina has retired after all. Collina, who was the referee at the last World Cup final in Korea in 2002, should have retired already since he reached his 45th birthday in February this year. However, he was granted an extension by the Italian football federation which would have allowed his to continue refereeing international matches until the end of 2005 and Italian matches until June 2006.
The reason for the unexpected development is that he has signed a contract worth 800,000 to take part in an advertising campaign for a new car (the Opel New Vectra), the maker of which is a major sponsor of AC Milan football team. The Italian football federation says Collinas role in this advertising is incompatible with the impartiality necessary for a referee in serie A and serie B matches, leading to his decision to retire.