FC Barcelona

Neymar Allegedly Called a 'Clown' by Roberto Soldado During Villarreal Draw

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar (L) vies with Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar during the Spanish league football match Villarreal CF vs FC Barcelona at El Madrigal stadium in Vila-real on March 20, 2016. / AFP / JOSE JORDAN        (Photo credit should read JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images)
JOSE JORDAN/Getty Images
Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2016

Villarreal striker Roberto Soldado reportedly called Barcelona star Neymar a "clown" for the manner in which he earned and converted a penalty during Sunday's 2-2 draw between the two teams at El Madrigal.

Neymar went down in the box under a challenge from Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo, who appeared to get a full palm on the ball. However, Neymar was nonetheless awarded a spot-kick, and, according to Spanish daily Sport, Soldado made his feelings known by telling Neymar, "You are a clown."

Soldado was incensed by the referee's decision to award Neymar a penalty on Sunday.
Soldado was incensed by the referee's decision to award Neymar a penalty on Sunday.JOSE JORDAN/Getty Images

The Brazilian appeared to take umbrage with the allegation and motioned to referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez that Soldado was "talking too much" instead of getting on with the game.

Twitter account BarcaStuffReply provided footage of the incident in question, which showed Asenjo was hard done by in conceding the 41st-minute penalty:

Neymar nonchalantly stepped up to net the resulting spot-kick with a Panenka finish, in some ways rubbing further salt in Villarreal's wound:

The furore didn't end there for Soldado, however, as the former Valencia and Tottenham Hotspur man took to his official Twitter account after game, where he inferred that referee Martinez lacked "a pair."

Although there was no mention of Martinez specifically, it didn't take much to deduce whom the Spanish striker was referring to. 

Sport provided a translation, which read: "We gave everything despite everything, with a pair, something that someone didn't have on the pitch. Extraordinary game from the team."

The questionable penalty call came on a controversial day of decisions from the official, but Villarreal eventually fought back from two goals down to seal a 2-2 draw and end Barca's 12-match winning streak in La Liga.

BBC Sport's Andy West even went so far as to suggest Martinez might have been the worst referee he'd ever seen:  

Bleacher Report's Jason Pettigrove agreed that an injustice was dealt to Asenjo after conceding the penalty:

Villarreal will undoubtedly have been pleased to rescue a point from two goals down against the Spanish league leaders, but there will inevitably be a suspicion as to what might have been had Neymar not been handed a penalty.

Sunday's controversy will only fuel conspiracy theorists who believe bigger teams take precedence in tough refereeing decisions, while Neymar's reputation for drawing fouls won't have been helped by the call either.

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