In 2016-2018, a series of alleged payments were made by FC Barcelona to former vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira. These payments, totalling €1.4 million ($1.5 million), were reportedly made for Negreira’s advice on how players should behave towards referees and for providing tips on what they can or cannot do depending on the referee officiating a certain match. The payments were recently brought to light by Spanish radio station SER Catalunya, leading to an ongoing investigation and controversy surrounding the football club.
So lets Breakdown Barca’s 2016-2018 seasons checking any abnormalities during that time:
Real Madrid took home the laliga and the Champions League that season. Barcelona only won the Copa Del Ray that season.
Barcelona did not concede a single penalty that season. Compared to Real Madrid who Conceded 4 that season. According to Marca:
- Barcelona: 9 penalties for and 0 against
- Real Madrid: 8 penalties for and 4 against
But this doesn’t include the nuances of the players involved. Real Madrid was then captained by Sergio Ramos who has a history of rough tackles and challenges. Sergio Ramos alone contributed to 3 of the penalties against Real Madrid at the time. Which further carried on in the National team where he conceded the 4th. Which was correctly awarded against Italy as reported by Marca themselves.
If we talk about red cards in that Season Luis Suarez and Sergio Roberto were sent off once in Copa del Rey and Neymar was sent off once in La liga. Real Madrid on the other hand also received only 2 penalties in the 2016-17 season in Laliga. One was awarded to Gareth Bale and the other to Sergio Ramos. So clearly just going by penalties as a reference can’t be the gold standard of the be-all and end-all for a team in the referee scandal.
The 2017-18 season marked a challenging time for Barcelona as their fierce rivals, Real Madrid, achieved a historic feat by securing a third consecutive UEFA Champions League title. Additionally, Barcelona bid farewell to their star-studded attacking trio, MSN, as Neymar went his separate way, and their accomplished manager, Luis Enrique, departed the club. But Barcelona did manage to get the domestic double that season.
Barcelona conceded 2 penalties that season which were neither alarming or insignificant at that time.
- Barcelona: 5 penalties for and 2 against;
- Real Madrid: 10 penalties for and 4 against;
On the other hand, Real Madrid still managed to concede 4 penalties again. Barcelona on the other hand received only 5 pens as compared to 9 in the previous season which could also be linked to Neymar’s departure and a slow start for Luis Suarez in the league. Which made Barcelona’s attack far less potent.
Barcelona conceded 2 red cards that season both of them handed out to Sergio Roberto. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the red cards awarded in the 2017-18 season of Copa del Rey for any teams. On the other hand for Real Madrid 4 red cards were awarded 2 to Ramos and one each to Carvajal and Marcelo.
Breaking Marca’s Report on Before and After arrival of VAR
- Barcelona. Without VAR: in favour 57, against 15 = +42. With VAR: for 31, against 19 = +12
- R. Madrid. Without VAR: for 55, against 26 = +29. With VAR: in favor 43, against 27 = +16
As Marca quoted there can be seen as a big change in the number before and After VAR. But it does not include the fact that Barcelona was still awarded 9 penalties in that season. If it was that stark of a difference the penalty numbers would have gone down drastically but they were relatively the same. Considering the overall period MARCA fails to mention that Barcelona had to let go of Lionel Messi one of the most fouled Players in Laliga and the player who was at the heart of everything Barcelona did. It also takes 6 years prior to VAR but only 4 seasons since VAR was implemented. During this Barcelona has had a considerably worse defence and has been struggling through FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES.
It is important to note that the ongoing investigation into alleged payments made by Barcelona to former vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, should be taken seriously and thoroughly examined. However, when looking at the specific seasons of 2016-17 and 2017-18, the penalty and red card statistics alone do not necessarily support claims of favouritism towards Barcelona. Real Madrid also received penalties and red cards during these seasons, and individual player behaviour likely played a significant role in these numbers. Therefore, while the allegations of payments to Negreira should be thoroughly investigated, it would be unfair to solely attribute Barcelona’s performance during these seasons to potential referee favoritism. Other factors such as the departure of key players and changes in league regulations should also be taken into account when analyzing the club’s performance.