Controversy ensued after Barcelona’s victory against Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
In last weekend’s Matchday 15 of La Liga play in Spain, Barcelona edged over Atletico Madrid by a hair. Assisted by Raphinha, Joao Felix scored the game-winning goal from close range in the 28th minute.
Xavi Hernandez’s players rose to 34 points, putting them in third position. Meanwhile, Diego Simeone’s side slid to fourth with 31 points but with a game in hand. On the other hand, with 15 matches under their belts, Real Madrid and Girona are neck-and-neck 38 points.
What happened during Barcelona’s win over Atletico Madrid?
The 2023-24 La Liga season began with Barcelona continuing to endure refereeing decisions that were dubious. It was the contentious decision by referee Soto Grado not to give the Catalan team a penalty at a pivotal point in the encounter that overshadowed their opening game of the season.
The problematic refereeing continued in consecutive games, which only made things worse for them. Consequently, the club’s discontent was evident, and President Joan Laporta voiced his disapproval. When Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez oversaw the derby match against Atletico Madrid, the controversy surrounding the officiating became even more intense.
Several incidents occurred during the match that the Montjuic fans felt were unjust to Xavi’s side. These included Joao Felix’s penalty request, two fouls committed by Memphis Depay, and Ilkay Gundogan’s stop on one of Barcelona’s offensive attempts.
Barcelona levies accusations of spying toward referee
However, after the game, Catalan newspaper Sport reported that assistant referee Raul Cabanero was involved in an odd incident outside of the Barcelona dressing room. Rumor has it that the Spanish official spied on the players at both half-time and final whistle.
Edu Polo, a press officer for the Blaugrana, asked the assistant referee to leave the premises. Nevertheless, when speaking with Sanchez over the radio, the linesman cast doubt on Polo’s identification. Xavi’s appearance proved Polo’s identification. The situation settled down after that.
Sanchez advocated calmness in a follow-up story by Diario AS. The issue was resolved after some debate. Contrarily, they corroborate Sport’s claims that Cabanero went inside the locker room at halftime. They said that he went to execute the usual player kit check but asserted that it normally takes place outside the locker room.
However, news has broken that Barcelona has been fined, which is rather shocking. According to an article in Mundo Deportivo, RFEF penalized Barcelona $650.
Polo’s actions led to the punishment because he stopped Sanchez Martinez’s assistant referee from trying to enter the Barcelona locker room. While this episode may be out of the ordinary, it adds fuel to the fire of the controversy surrounding the Catalan giants and the referees in La Liga.
Disputes between referees and Barcelona are old news. News broke this year that the club had paid millions of euros to potentially profit from refereeing decisions. Those payments over a decade sent shockwaves across Spanish sport.
The VP of the national refereeing committee’s firm was one of the recipients of payment from Barcelona. Prosecutors officially charged the club with corruption in March, but the club has since denied any involvement.
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