Referees Not Helping to Disperse Barcelona Favouritism Controversy

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2014


Match officials are often the subject of huge debates and this is highlighted further by teams involved in fighting for the title. Those that are battling relegation will face similar problems but unless they happen to be playing one of the big three, their complaints will quickly be forgotten.

It's a case of who shouts the loudest gets heard. Supporters and managers alike, will stake their claim for justice and a fair hearing, but the football powers often have little say when taking retrospective action.


It's a lonely job being a referee, the fast-paced nature of the game means it's impossible to get every decision right. Even if their positioning is spot on, a simple run across the line of vision by an opposing player can distort their opinion.

Then there's the fact that most rules of the game are neither black nor white. The many grey areas within the rule book means that it's open to individual interpretation.

This is then complicated further by players doing everything possible to win; feigning injury, diving, stamping and pulling shirts are just some of the issues they face on a weekly basis.

It's the hardest task on the pitch; even if they make a 100 percent correct call, there will still be those that criticise. You can't please everybody and they certainly shouldn't try.

They are only human and mistakes will happen. The real concern is when the integrity of the referee and his governing association is called into question.

This, of course, started last weekend when Real Madrid players let their feelings be known after Barcelona won 4-3 at the Bernabeu. "Maybe they wanted Barca back in the League," said Cristiano Ronaldo in the mixed zone, via Football Espana.

"I don't want to leave this inside of me and I’m not looking for excuses, but the ref is not at the required level for a game like this," the forward added.

It's clear frustration from the Ballon d'Or winner; either he thinks the referee is not good enough or that there is a conspiracy to keep Barcelona in the title race. You can't have it both ways.

Picture: Messi scoring penalty [via @spherachannel]

— barcastuff (@barcastuff) March 29, 2014

Following on from the Clasico fall-out, the penalty incident in the Catalan derby has added further fuel to the fire. Neymar controlled the ball with his arm before it hit Espanyol defender Javi Lopez in the same area of the body. Lionel Messi scored the resulting spot kick and Barca won 1-0.

"Clos Gomez was the winner," Lopez told reporters, via Football Espana. "The penalty was just bad luck. The ball bounced up and hit my hand. You can see how my lip is [from the tangle with Mascherano] but he didn’t call for a penalty."

You have to feel some sympathy for Lopez, after being involved in the two big judgements of the game. The outcome has gone against him on both occasions. Though, actually naming the referee in the manner that he did is a step too far.


The managers to their credit have been quiet in the last week. "I don’t talk about the referee. I don’t talk about the referee," said Espanyol boss Javier Aguirre in the press conference, via Football Espana.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 29: Javi Lopez (R) of RCD Espanyol is shown a yellow card by referee Carlos Clos Gomez during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and FC Barcelona at Cornella-El Prat Stadium on March 29, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Ale
Alex Caparros/Getty Images

The referees' association should think they are lucky that Jose Mourinho no longer resides in Madrid. Whilst in the Premier League he has suggested that Chris Foy shouldn't take charge against Chelsea again: "Maybe it would be helpful that the committee doesn’t send him to our matches," the coach told reporters a fortnight ago, via The National.

When the conclusion continues to favour Barcelona then it's bound to invite a media furore. It should be pointed out that as soon as something goes against the reigning champions then some will label it karma.

Many say that it will even itself out over a full campaign, but that's impossible, as getting the big verdicts when playing Levante won't be the same as when against a title rival.

It's unfortunate that the two events were close together and had they been more spaced out—like those that have given Real and Atletico Madrid an advantage—then we wouldn't even be talking about it.