Anytime a powerhouse club like Real Madrid plays, there’s a certain vocal segment of fans that accuse the referee of helping the star-studded team win. But after referees were seen with Real Madrid swag at La Cerámica after Madrid’s fixture vs. Villarreal this weekend, it’s more than just fans who are crying foul.
Villarreal president Fernando Roig has publicly complained about spotting refs with Real Madrid bags after the Spanish giants came from behind to beat Villarreal 3-2 on Sunday.
“What has surprised me and made me laugh is that the referees have come out with Real Madrid bags,” Roig told a Spanish radio station. “They were carrying bags of Real Madrid. I don’t know what they had in those bags.”
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He added in comments to Marca: “I just don’t think it’s a good image. They tell me it’s common. But they have not come out with Villarreal bags.”
According to Marca, the Spanish Referees’ Committee said that the bags carried by the referees included Real Madrid merchandise like “keychains, pins and pens.”
A photo has circulated online which fans say shows referee Jesus Gil Manzano holding a bag with a Real Madrid logo. Meanwhile, Real Madrid fans say that is actually an older photo of Espanyol player Jurado.
It’s hard to tell because the photo is blurry and it’s not clear where the photo originated from, but that hasn’t stopped it from spreading quickly. It appears someone in the photo is holding document that has the logos of Real Madrid and Espanyol side-by-side — but again, it’s a low-resolution image.
Whether the photo is real or not, that is a separate issue from whether or not the referee really got free Real Madrid stuff — but refs getting bags from teams around La Liga is apparently not that uncommon. As the recent controversy swirled, video started circulating from 2012 that showed a referee with a Villarreal bag.
But the issue has been made worse by a dubious call on Sunday that helped Real Madrid win and reclaim the top La Liga spot.
With Real Madrid down 2-1 at Villarreal, a handball penalty was awarded to the visitors, which allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to equalize and has ended up being a controversial decision. From there, Real Madrid rallied and roared back to a 3-2 finish.
Whether or not the goody bags for referees is a common practice, maybe referees should just start bringing their own plastic bags with them?