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Jesús Gil Manzano. SUR
Conspiracy theories on the increase
A look at La Liga

Conspiracy theories on the increase

Spain's least-watched television station RMTV is gaining notoriety for a Friday afternoon show that focuses on Real Madrid's referee for the forthcoming weekend

Rob Palmer

ESPN commentator

Friday, 8 March 2024, 16:49

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Football clubs are continually breaking the data and science barriers to gain an extra edge, but Real Madrid are taking it to an unacceptable extreme.

Spain's least-watched television station is gaining notoriety for a Friday afternoon show that focuses on the team's referee for the forthcoming weekend. RMTV, Real Madrid Televisión, produces a feature of the whistleblowers' previous encounters with their players.

Referees have admitted it's having an effect on their performances. "I've seen some of these videos. You try and keep away but, in the end, they reach you," said Alejandro Hernández Hernández back in November. He'd been the subject of an eleven-minute special on the station. A few months later he was the VAR who made an unprecedented three decisions that fell in favour of Real Madrid when they beat Almeria.

Sevilla became the first team to complain to the Spanish FA ahead of their trip to the Bernabeu. Come match-day, referee Isidiro Diaz de Mera threw a curve ball by pulling a muscle mid-game and rookie Fernández Buergo stepped in. He hadn't officiated enough games for RMTV to make a video.

Stand by for an hour-long special on Gil Manzano. He's the unfortunate man who blew his whistle a second before Jude Bellingham headed the ball for what would have been a match-winning goal. All hell was let loose. Unfortunately for Bellingham, the referee understood English swear words and the England international was shown a red card which will trigger a two-game ban.

Carlos Ancelotti attempted to show some decorum but the club website went with the headline: "An unprecedented refereeing decision prevents Real Madrid from winning at Mestalla."

It was the end of an evening Señor Manzano wanted to forget. He was chosen for his experience in managing heated matches. There was already an edge as it was the return of Vinícius Júnior to the scene of the disgraceful racist chants last season. There was one report of a child making a monkey sign at the player during the game. Manzano would have to include it in his match report if he was made aware of the incident.

It was a game where Real came back from two goals down to make it two-two. Manzano gave Valencia a penalty with two minutes remaining but correctly overturned the decision after VAR intervention.

It was also a game where Mouctar Diakhaby suffered one of the worst injuries ever seen in Spanish football. His knee dislocation was described as 'terrifying' by a trauma specialist. Manzano was the first on the scene to witness his screams and called for medical assistance.

He couldn't wait for his shift to end but needed to add seven minutes of overtime for the stoppage. Typically, Real Madrid won a corner in the 97th minute. Referees are trained not to end a game if there's a goalscoring opportunity, so he allowed it to be taken. There was a slight delay as Real piled everyone into the area. The corner was cleared. Phew, here was his chance to blow up as he thought the ball was heading to the wing. He gave the whistle the biggest puff and it was clear that the game had ended a millisecond before the cross came in, but you try telling that to the Real players and their supporters. The conspiracy level had gone up another notch.

Señor Manzano is expected to be 'rested' this weekend. If I was him, I'd be avoiding any football and especially RMTV's Friday afternoon special.

Gil Manzano is the unfortunate man who blew his whistle a second before Jude Bellingham headed the ball for what would have been a match-winning goal

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