Controversial referee decisions sparked outrage from Barcelona manager Xavi in his side’s opening-day draw against Getafe in LaLiga. Not only did Barcelona winger Raphinha see red in the first half. Xavi himself earned a straight red card directly stemming from referee altercations.
Xavi took the game and applied it to the entire league. A lackluster, physical and brutal contest between Barcelona and Getafe yielded a scoreless draw. Getafe’s Jaime Mata picked up a double yellow card of his own. Yet, there were a combined 31 fouls in the game.
Getafe’s physical style led to 20 of those fouls. Much to the chagrin of Xavi, Getafe only picked up six yellow cards. On several occasions, Getafe committed off-the-ball fouls, particularly on Raphinha down the right-hand side. Barcelona was not immune to these either, but these were retaliatory because central referee Cesar Soto Grado lost control of the game. Also, Ronald Araujo comically handled the ball in open play, which should be an instant yellow card. However, the referee never brandished the card.
Xavi flames LaLiga and referee after seeing red
All of that boiled over for Xavi, who complained too much in the eyes of the referees on and off the field.
“We had a meeting with the referees and the first change they said they would make is that they would understand the coaches more, and the tension we feel on the pitch. But that is not what happened, and I don’t understand it,” Xavi said in his postgame press conference.
Referee decisions have been a persistent complaint of LaLiga. Xavi also is not a fan of the physical nature of Getafe. He said that is why LaLiga does not rival the popularity of other leagues.
“If this match is La Liga’s product, it’s an absolute embarrassment. I understand why people don’t watch our football… I was sent off for telling the referee they were allowing Getafe to get away with a lot of fouls and not doing the same for us.
The manager connected that to the controversial VAR decision toward the end of the game. Barcelona had a claim for a penalty, but VAR deemed the ball hit Gavi’s arm in the buildup to an eventual foul.
“The handball given to Gavi was invented. They told us in a meeting that only very clear handballs would be given and Gavi’s wasn’t one, yet they gave it anyway. They told us they would use VAR less and I don’t know if VAR is there to help or not. I don’t see the point of that meeting.”
PHOTO: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire
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