REFEREE APPOINTED TO OFFICIATE EL CLASICO SPOTTED CARRYING A REAL MADRID GIFT BAG IN PLAIN SIGHT IN 2017
The biggest football event on the calendar is back and it has sparked controversies even before its kick-off. This season’s hugely anticipated and potentially season-defining El Clasico is once again a hot topic of discussion.
The appointment of Mateu Lahoz as the referee, after the refereeing committee was reportedly ‘forced’ to do so, had already lit up debates among fans. However, in a strange turn of events, the experienced yet hugely controversial referee had to stay out of the game due to an injury.
The organisers immediately came up with a name that was as controversial as the one before, referee Jesus Gil Manzano. The Spanish official is now in his ninth year of officiating games in the first division.
GIL MANZANO’S IMPARTIALITY UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
As one would expect, controversies and Real Madrid go hand in hand. Questions are arising on Manzano’s honesty and impartiality, the two traits that define a match official And there is a pretty valid reason for that.
An old image of Manzano has resurfaced on social media handles of almost all major news outlets. According to reports, the picture was taken back in 2017, during the 2016-17 season.
Manzano was in charge of officiating the Valencia vs Real Madrid return fixture in that season. After going down 2-0 to Valencia at the Estadio Ceramica, the Los Blancos scraped out a 2-3 victory at full-time. As is often the case, Gil played a huge role in deciding the outcome of the fixture.
The 37-year-old’s consecutive controversial calls changed the game that night. The most blatant of them all came in the second half when he awarded a penalty to Zidane’s side for a non-existent handball. The resultant spot-kick from Cristiano effectively lead the comeback for his side.
Real ended up winning the La Liga that season, albeit only their second one in the past 9 years.
There could be an effect in the upcoming Clasico
The controversy does not end here. Cameras caught Jesus leaving the stadium with a white bag stamped with a Real Madrid logo on it. He even faced the press with that bag in his hand. Apparently, he makes no attempt to hide his fandom for the Los Blancos even in public.
With Manzano officiating the Clasico tonight, several may feel nervous, and rightly so. This referee has a poor track record. And to have him officiate a potentially season-defining Clasico spells imminent danger of blatant bias.
However, the image we may not interpret the image in this manner and the referee may surprise everyone by conducting a clean and fair game. He certainly has, so far, carried out his job. Nonetheless, the growing concern among the Blaugrana community is certainly not entirely baseless.