RFEF to probe Madrid ref videos after complaint

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has opened an investigation into Real Madrid TV’s broadcasting of videos criticising referees ahead of games, Sevilla said on Thursday.

Sevilla filed a complaint on Feb. 24 before the two clubs met in LaLiga at the Bernabéu, claiming Real Madrid TV had undertaken a “campaign of persecution and harassment” against the referees due to take charge of the match.

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Madrid’s club television channel has regularly broadcast criticism of referees and their decisions before and after matches this season.

“The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), via its Judges and Disciplinary Committee, has informed us that they have opened an investigation into Real Madrid, following our complaint of the videos broadcast by Real Madrid TV in the build-up to games,” Sevilla said in a statement on Thursday.

“Ahead of our match at the Santiago Bernabéu, Real Madrid TV released a video scrutinising referees Isidro Díaz de Mera and Pablo González Fuertes, the referee and VAR respectively chosen for the match.

“The club decided to take action in light of the fact that these practices, which have been a recurring theme in recent times, including before a league meeting earlier this season between the two teams, are seriously damaging to Spanish football and call the integrity of the competition and its officiating body into question.

“Furthermore, above all, this malpractice seeks to influence individual matchday referees, as the videos attempt to create an image of lack of professionalism and anti-Madrid bias, right before fixtures are scheduled to be played. This has major repercussions for matches played at the Santiago Bernabéu, as tens of thousands of Madrid fans arrive convinced that an anti-Madrid bias exists amongst referees, which increases tension significantly and creates an unfair level of pressure on them.”

Sevilla are the first club to register a formal complaint over Real Madrid TV’s videos, although others have also expressed their unhappiness at the practice, accusing Madrid of seeking to influence officials.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta described Real Madrid TV’s videos as “shameful” in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1 last month, calling on the RFEF to “get involved” in the matter.

Barca coach Xavi Hernandez agreed, claiming that “[the videos] influence the competition completely, week after week.”

Luis Media Cantalejo, the head of Spain’s refereeing body, has complained that Real Madrid TV are “putting pressure” on referees.

“There’s no sport, no team in the world that does this,” he told COPE radio. “What’s happening with this TV channel has never happened anywhere else. What they’re doing seems absolutely negative to me. I’ve never seen it in 40 years of refereeing.”

The latest incident that left Madrid unhappy with a official’s decision-making came in their 2-2 draw at Valencia on Saturday in LaLiga, when referee Jesus Gil Manzano blew the full-time whistle seconds before Jude Bellingham had the ball in the net for what have been the winning goal.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti, who has defended Real Madrid TV’s videos as “freedom of expression,” called the decision “unpredecented.”

In a speech to the club’s AGM last year, Madrid president Florentino Perez called for government intervention in Spain’s refereeing body, saying “urgent” reforms were needed to safeguard “the well-being of Spanish football.”

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