Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The League of discredit of the referees: Negreira, Vinicius, blunders and an ordeal of Thebes and Florentino

He usually says in recent times the Technical Committee of Refereesa body dependent on the RFEF, which the referee is the team number 21 of The league. It is part of his communication strategy to consolidate a reality among public opinion: that the referees are elite athletes, just like soccer players, and not some kind of judges unrelated to soccer. Therefore, the CTA itself invites a scrutiny equivalent to that received by soccer teams. And the one from the season that just ended can’t be positive.

In fact, a course has been lived that seems to mark a turning point in many respects for the arbitration group. The referees have always been discussed, they have always been criticized and there are always those who have believed they saw signs that they favor one or the other, depending on the shirt that each observer is wearing. But never before had the honesty and professionalism of the group been questioned as in recent months.

To the referees, to tell the truth, everything has come together. The outbreak of Negreira case It has coincided with a season of rude mistakes (some of them, even recognized by themselves) and with internal conflicts in the collective. Because there have always been quarrels, as in any human group, as in any office, but now they are no longer hidden. And, although lawful and normal, they affect the discourse of a cracked collective when they come from worse given.

The international arbitrators, with Sánchez Martínez in the foreground, during their appearance in Las Rozas for the Negreira case. EFE

The Negreira case

Nothing has done more damage to referees than the discovery that Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira received at least 7.3 million euros from the FC Barcelona between 2001 and 2018, years in which he was the vice president of the CTA. An earthquake that has shaken the foundations of Spanish football and whose consequences are still unpredictable: Justice will decide at its own pace and UEFA has yet to clarify whether it punishes the club without playing the next Champions League.

Referees consider themselves victims of a storm that they consider alien. They defend, and they are right, that there is not even any indication that any member received money from Negreira and that they have been subjected to a public beating for something carried out by a person who no longer even belongs to the CTA.

as reported THE SPANISH NEWSPAPER, from the Prensa Ibérica group, and now the Civil Guard reaffirms in its report, the most solid thesis at the moment is that the money that Barça gave to Negreira he ended up returning to directors and other people linked to the Barcelona club. That is to say, that he was not destined to buy referees. In spite of everything, the damage has already been done, and for current and future referees it will be difficult to get rid of this suspicion which, from what is known up to now, is unfounded.

The television signal of the image of the controversy of Griezmann’s goal in Espanyol – Atlético. MOVISTAR+

Referee blunders

But not everything is the fault of the cobbled. The referees must make self-criticism, also in a public way. Perhaps at the press conference that the president of the CTA, Luis Medina Cantalejo, will offer when the playoff for promotion to Segunda ends, they will do so. Because during this season they have made very gross mistakes, inappropriate for the category that is assumed for them.

In it Cadiz-Elche, Del Cerro Grande for valid a goal in which the Elche attacker had started in a clear offside that was not checked in the VAR by Iglesias Villanueva. In it Valladolid-Seville, Ortiz Arias whistled the break tenths of a second before Escudero put together a shot that ended in a goal. In it Espanyol-Athletic, a Griezmann goal was awarded without there being a clear image that the ball crossed the goal line. In it muggy Valencia-Real Madridhe only expelled Vinicius after a scuffle with Hugo Duro, a sanction that was annulled by the Competition Committee in an unprecedented decision and more than questionable.

These are just a handful of examples of the mistakes that First Division referees have made this season. Errors that have led to a cascade of critical statements from many clubs in the category. From the collective it is interpreted as a campaign orchestrated by LaLiga to harm the RFEF in the war that both organizations have been fighting for years. Both from LaLiga and from the clubs that version is rejected. “Simply, our patience has run out,” they say from one of them.

It doesn’t help them either, everything is written, a regulation that is given to them and that is more convoluted with each passing year. Two examples from the last day: Kroos’s hand that caused a penalty in favor of Athletic and Mandi’s that legally prevented a goal from Griezmann. It goes against common sense that both actions are arbitrated in this way, but the regulation indicates that this is how it should be done. And that is something that many times the fan cannot understand.

Appearance of those responsible for the CTA, with its president Luis Medina Cantalejo, on the left. EFE

The arbitration model, in question

All these situations have led to the opening of A new melon in Spanish football: that of the arbitration structure model. The referees report directly to the RFEF, a structure shielded both by the FIFA statutes and by the Sports Lawrecently modified.

Javier Tebas took advantage of the weakness of the group to encourage the clubs to propose a new modelin which the referees are organized through a commercial company, as is already the case in England and Germany, with the participation of the RFEF, but also of other agents such as LaLiga itself or even the footballers.

Behind the Vinicius caseFlorentino Pérez also expressed his opinion that “it is necessary to change the arbitration structure”. The president of Real Madrid thus gave impetus to a campaign that had already started previously through the club’s official television, which has been openly pointing out for months the person in charge of the VAR in the CTA, Carlos Clos Gómez.

The RFEF announced this Tuesday that it will propose that the appointments of referees and VAR be made by two committees, each made up of “three former referees, a representative of the players and a representative of the coaches (these last two with voice, but no vote)”, although elected by the RFEF Assembly. A proposal that will not mitigate the wishes of Tebas and Florentino, in a battle that Rubiales, with the law in hand, has won without having to fight it.

The referee Xavier Estrada Fernández. Archive

Internal conflicts between the referees

Luis Medina Cantalejo He assumed the presidency of the CTA in November 2021, replacing Carlos Velasco Carballo. His style is much more frontal and interventionist than his predecessor. He has even read the card in public to a referee, see Mateu Lahoz. Historically, arbitration life was formal: they reached the First Division and, if they were not too wrong, almost all of them retired there at the age of 45.

things have changed because the age limit has been removed and because they have opted to create a team of referees who only practice in VAR. Well, four of the referees who have performed this function during the last season will stop doing so, because Medina has decided not to renew their contract.

This decision has caused those affected to file a claim for labor rights. They are Xavier Estrada Fernández (who broke the arbitration unit to denounce Enríquez Negreira on his own), David Medié Jiménez, José Luis González González, Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva, and the Second Division VARs David Pérez Pallas, Daniel Ocón Arraiz and Víctor Areces Franco.

The idea of ​​the CTA was that the VAR referees do not perform this function for more than two seasons and all of them were completing their second year in office. Despite this, those affected have decided to fight for their rights, which they consider damaged. Neither Antonio Mateu Lahoz nor Carlos del Cerro Grande have done it, whom Medina has decided to withdraw from the field given his seniority. Mateu has refused to become VAR and Del Cerro is considering it.


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