Javier Tebas. AFP
Tebas sparks debate as Xavi commits to Barça
A Look at LaLiga

Tebas sparks debate as Xavi commits to Barça

The lack of goal-line technology and Tebas reopening the debate on taking La Liga matches to America nearly overshadowed Xavi's decision

Friday, 26 April 2024, 18:26


What is the biggest headline? Xavi stays? La Liga goes to America? Goal-line technology in Spain never existed? The title is sorted with six games to go?

It has been a busy old week in Spanish football. In normal circumstances, the inquest on the 'clásico' would dominate discussion - but that is far too mundane.

The biggest initial talking point was the 'ghost goal'. Barcelona thought they'd scored. Real disagreed. The linesman wasn't so sure and the ref was surrounded by players tapping imaginary watches.

It was obvious that Barça's players were unaware that their league hasn't invested in goal-line technology as they waited for a bleep from the wrist of the official.

In Spain they decided that it was an unwanted extra when they brought in VAR. It was reasoned that the multitude of cameras wouldn't find a decisive angle.

League president Javier Tebas cited a malfunction of the technology in a Sheffield United v Aston Villa Premier League game three years ago for not investing in the option. That was a one-off; this was the biggest and most decisive match in the Spanish season with a global audience. As the officials couldn't confirm the ball had fully crossed the line, no goal was given - and Tebas was unrelenting.

Señor Tebas created more debate when he reopened the case for taking Liga matches to America. For transparency, my main job is commentating on La Liga for the US and Canada on ESPN, so I know how popular the league is over there.

It isn't a new story. Tebas tried just over five years ago - but too many legal obstacles were placed in the way. Here in Spain it has created a minor stir in comparison to England where there was outrage. There are far more American owners in the Premier League who would like to monetise their "product". I guarantee you that they'll be secretly angry that Tebas appears to be a step ahead. I also guarantee that it is at the top of the agenda in board meetings as they try to find a way to make it happen.

If they can take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi, we can take the Community Shield to Miami", they'll say. It will be the cross-Atlantic race for the yankee dollar.

Normally, any news about a Barcelona coach would lead debates for a whole week. But this week, Xavi's decision to reverse his decision to leave in the summer has fought for space in the newspapers, radio phone-ins and podcasts.

I've touched on the reasons in previous columns: he was at his wits end when he offered his resignation with injuries, too much boardroom meddling and some poor decisions by Xavi himself.

Since January, he's almost been demob happy (apart from the weekly blasts at referees). He's managed his way and results have improved. There's no obvious replacement, nobody knows the incredible emerging talent better than Xavi, and next season they will be back in front of a renovated Camp Nou- and so it all makes sense.

Now, I've run out of space to talk about 'El Clásico'. Congratulations to Real Madrid for strolling La Liga. "Ya no hay Liga."

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