Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández and Real Madrid TV have engaged in a war of words over the referee decisions in the Real Madrid - Almeria match, which sparked a huge debate in Spanish football.
Xavi, who took to the mic after Barcelona’s win over Real Betis on Sunday, criticized the referee and VAR for favoring Real Madrid in their 3-2 comeback win over Almeria on Sunday. He said that it was going to be very difficult to win the league with such inconsistency and bias — all this while it was proven that the calls in favour of Real Madrid on Sunday were correct, as Managing Madrid’s Kiyan Sobhani pointed out on sunday’s post-game podcast:
“I’ve seen it. If we speak, they sanction us... but everyone has seen it,” Xavi said. “I already said in Getafe that there were things that didn’t fit me, that it was going to be very difficult to win this League. There are things that we don’t control. It’s been seen by everyone,”
Real Madrid TV, the club’s official channel, did not take Xavi’s comments lightly and launched a scathing attack on the Barcelona boss and his club. They stated that Xavi’s 600 matches for Barcelona were under suspicion, as the club is involved in a bribery case with the vice president of the refereeing committee, José María Enriquez Negreira, who is under formal investigation for suspected corruption. As Real Madrid TV put it, “Xavi’s words are a smokescreen, which he knows how to do very well.”
“it is curious that Xavi Hernández finds things that happen in LaLiga strange and it seems normal that practically throughout his entire football career, for 20 years, his club has been paying the vice president of the referees around 8 million,” Jesus Alcaide of Real Madrid TV said. “I insist, during Xavi’s entire career. For 20 years. There are a total, we have counted, of 600 games of Mr. Xavi Hernández’s career as a player of F.C. Barcelona, with his corresponding titles. We don’t say it, the judge, the prosecutor, the Civil Guard says it... Those 600 matches are under suspicion. It is the reality. His club is accused. The entire time in which Xavi was a player for F.C. Barcelona is being investigated.
“Barcelona’s season is not going well. They are seven points behind in the League, they have had a difficult time in some qualifying rounds against modest teams... against whom Mr. Xavi had some altercations... with modest players from Barbastro, a team that was about to eliminate him,”
Xavi responded to Real Madrid TV today in his press conference ahead of the Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Athletic Bilbao. He said that he was not surprised by their reaction, and that he stood by his words. He also said that he did not want to get into a media war with Madrid, and that he preferred to focus on his team and the upcoming match.
“I have always respected Madrid,” Xavi said. “I don’t like wars, I’m peaceful. I respect videos, memes, everything - and I take it with humor.
“I believe in the honesty of the referees, but I don’t like the pressure they take. I say the same thing again as the other day, but I insist: the controversy is not with me. It’s in the Madrid versus Almeria [match]. I just give my opinion.
“I answer you out of politeness. I’m talking about the refereeing controversy because you [journalists] ask me.
“It is time to speak out, and I reiterate my words. It’s the feelings I have. I like to talk about football, I like the game, but if you ask me about the feeling I had the other day... Everyone has seen it and heard it. Judge for yourselves and we will surely have the same opinion,”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta, meanwhile, also gave his opinion at yesterday’s Great Sports Gala of World Sports.
“It’s a shame,” Laporta stated. “The referee team has to respond to the pressures that exist. If they don’t, they will leave us uneasy because it would be a dereliction of duties.”
The referee controversy has added more spice to the already heated rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid.