A La Liga assistant referee has told anti-corruption officials he was pressured by the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) to favour Real Madrid in the upcoming Clasico against Barcelona in November.
La Liga president Javier Tebas dismissed the accusations as “ridiculous,” saying that “there is nothing prepared here for anyone.”
Jacinto Vicente, the lawyer of the unnamed official, told Sport that a formal complaint has been made to the public prosecutor’s office in Barcelona, with the assistant referee told to “prejudice the interests of one of the clubs, Barcelona.”
COPE have accessed a copy of the document presented by Vicente, which reads: “In this context, in the middle of September, with two months still to go [before the Clasico], a referee said to my client he had received, and I quote, ‘an instruction directly from someone inside.’
“The guidelines said that they could be the refereeing team for the Clasico — even though it has still not been named, nor will it be until closer to the date — between Madrid and Barcelona on Nov. 21.
“In the case that they were designated the game, it was indicated that they must try to referee the game in a certain manner, in more certain terms, to prejudice the interests of one of the clubs, Barcelona.”
The case — which gained widespread attention in the Spanish media on Thursday — began with the assistant referee allegedly receiving a phone call midway through September from the match official he usually accompanies.
Vicente’s document reads that the official was told “it would be more convenient if the most difficult decisions in this game are not taken by the main referee — as it generates more controversy in the media — but by [my client] the assistant.
“If the decisions are made by the assistant, it was considered, less controversy would be generated and it would also dilute more quickly. In addition, it was also stated that this practice has already been tested in 2014-15 and that, precisely, on that occasion the main referee was exposed and criticised by the media. For that reason, it was convenient to be more subtle.”
Also on Thursday, Tebas dismissed the allegations while Spain’s Sports Minister Miguel Cardenal urged the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to address the accusations immediately.
“It is really incredible, this accusation by the assistant,” said Tebas. “It has no logic, form or procedure, especially when there is no referee designated for this Real Madrid-Barcelona match nor for the rest of the slate.”
Cardenal called upon the federation to respond.
“These are serious accusations, something incredibly alarming,” Cardenal said. “What must be done before this accusation is an immediate clarification and is is necessary to take quick measures. I would like the federation to address this immediately.”
The assistant referee claims that CTA spokesman Jose Angel Jimenez Munoz de Morales phoned him a few days after the initial call in September, told him the CTA knew of his refusal to follow instructions, and advised him to carry out what he had been told or else face the end of his officiating career.
The assistant referee says that he did not record the telephone conversation as he had not expected it, but that the number of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) switchboard had shown up.
Vicente told Sport: “One person let me know about a referee that had a problem and wanted to talk with me. It’s deducible that he is not from Barcelona [because if he was he would not have been chosen for the game].
“For a professional reason I had to go to Barcelona, where I met with him. He explained everything that had occurred and wanted to go public with the pressure being put on him because it’s the only way to clean up Spanish football and the only way to change a closed system.
“I advised him that it was not the best solution to publish [the claims], but that the normal thing to do would be to report it to the police. It scared him because he didn’t want his name to come out. If it does, he could have a serious professional problem.
“I told him that he should speak with the police first and the prosecution. On Oct. 19 I got in contact with the police and the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor began investigating the case.”