The ire of Spanish football is focused on Barcelona currently for El Caso Negreira, which was visually illustrated by the protests of Athletic Club fans on Sunday. Over the weekend Real Madrid also announced they would be joining the case against Barcelona as a witness, but one former referee has claimed they are not quite as white as their shirts.
Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez refereed in La Liga between 1995 and 2012, and now operates as an analyst for Cadena SER, where he remarks on decisions, but lately has been outspoken in his defence of refereeing innocence in El Caso Negreira.
Over the weekend Real Madrid TV released a slam video on Iturralde, which he responded to on Sunday night with a stunning claim.
“It is the modus operandi of this television (Real Madrid TV). Since they are journalists, who calls me to a separate room? Investigate it. So you can see how certain people try to put pressure on. In a 6-1 match against Deportivo or something like that, the game ends game, we left the field and the assistants go off with me. There is a person who puts me in a room and tells me: ‘I only ask you to whistle at me the same as Barca’.”
“He’s from Real Madrid. I ask him to see if he’s making a joke and I tell him that the conversation is over. He wanted to put me alone in the room, but I told him no. After half an hour the Technical Committee already knew of Referees (CTA). I brought it to their attention, it seemed very serious to me, but there it was. There was nothing. As those of Real Madrid TV are good journalists, let them investigate. I’m going to make their job easier: let them start from the top.”
Iturralde was coy on who that person was, but eventually revealed the culprit.
“It hasn’t happened to me more times, no president has put me in a separate room. I care about the facts. The one who put me in a separate room was Florentino Perez. I don’t have to hide. It happened. There is a CTA report, because I made it known. So they can see what it means to pressure. I’m not going to hide.”
Generally this sort of pressure would require some form of action from the organising bodies, as was the case when Paris Saint-Germain President Nasser Al-Khelaifi, when he charged through the Santiago Bernabeu trying to find the referee last season. That said the action was rather minimal, resulting in a one-game ban.
In the past Iturralde has said that refereeing in Spain is most difficult when you get ‘run over by the Real Madrid bus’, citing the media criticism and storm in Madrid surrounding referees. Once again it appears that bus is pursuing him.
Image via Real Madrid Cordon Press