Spanish football has found itself at the centre of a corruption scandal surrounding its biggest match of the season after a linesman made a complaint to police after being approached and told to favour Real Madrid in next month’s El Clasico with Barcelona.
A report in the Daily Mail on Thursday revealed that anti-corruption officials are taking the claims seriously, although the identities of the match officials are being kept secret due to a fear of reprisals against them.
It is understood that one of the pre-designated linesmen had been contacted by the match referee, and informed that the refereeing committee are pressuring him in to favouring Real with his decisions in their clash with fierce rivals Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on 21 November.
The linesman has also reported Jose Angel Jimenez Munoz de Morales, a member of the referees’ committee, for allegedly contacting him directly to put extra pressure on the official to rule in Real’s favour.
Munoz de Morales has denied any wrongdoing, and said on Wednesday night: “I have no idea where they come from. It is like something out of a Kafka novel.”
The claims come just two months after the Atletico Madrid manager, Diego Simeone, claimed it would be made easier for Real to win La Liga this season due to the reputation of the club meaning that one title in seven years is not enough.
Simeone said: “The league is dangerously prepared for Real Madrid. Madrid cannot go seven years with only winning one league. This year I think that sadly it is difficult to see another team winning it.”
Real were infuriated by the claims, and supporters insist there cannot be a conspiracy due to the number of penalties that Barcelona have received compared to their own side. Real have seen just one spot-kick go their way this season compared to the seven that the Catalans have already received, and have claimed that any favouritism from referees would surely see this number increase.