El Clásico

Who is José María Sánchez Martínez, the referee for El Clásico 2021 Barcelona - Real Madrid?

José María Sánchez Martínez will be the man in the middle at Camp Nou, attempting to make sure El Clásico flows smoothly, fairly and without incident.

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Who is José María Sánchez Martínez, the referee for El Clásico 2021 Barcelona - Real Madrid?

In charge of overseeing Sunday’s Clásico between Barcelona and Real Madrid will be match official José María Sánchez Martínez and his team of officials. Sánchez Martínez is from the Murcian Committee and is in his 12th season as a professional referee. The 38-year-old started out officiating in the lower categories including the promotion Play-Offs in 2013 and 2014. He was placed in charge of his first Copa del Rey match in the 2014/15 season, looking after the Second Round tie between Girona and Tenerife. The following season he made the leap to the top flight, featuring among the 20 referees designated for the 2015/16 LaLiga campaign. He made his debut in Spain’s golden division in the Week 2 meeting between Real Sociedad and Sporting Gijón at Anoeta.

2017: Sánchez Martínez moves up the ladder

In January 2017, he was listed by FIFA to referee international matches, and gained his first taste of officiating at that level in March of that year, overseeing two Euro Under-19 qualifiers.

It turned out to be a breakthrough year for Sánchez Martínez - his first experience of El Clásico came in the Spanish Super Cup in August 2017 when he was selected for the return leg which Madrid won 2-0. In December, he took charge of his first Europa League game (Porto vs Monaco) and a fortnight later he oversaw his first LaLiga Clásico as Barcelona ran out 0-3 winners in the capital. Three Madrid players went into the book that day - including Dani Carvajal who was issued a straight red and his marching orders for his theatrical, none-too-subtle handball in the box.

5-1 at Camp Nou with Messi in the stands

He was designated to referee the first Clásico of the 2018/19 season, this time at Camp Nou. Once again, Barça prevailed, beating Madrid 5-1 with Luis Suárez bagging a hat trick.

This season he made his debut in the Champions League in the Matchday 1 group stage game between Sporting Clube and Ajax.

Sunday’s match will be Sánchez Martínez’s fifth Clásico - apart from the two LaLiga meetings and the Super Cup, he was also the man in black for the return leg of the 2019 Copa del Rey semi-final, which Barcelona won 0-3. Overall, Sánchez Martínez, who when he is not refereeing has a day job with Santander Bank, has a balance of three Barca wins and one Madrid win in El Clásico. Joining him will be line officials Raúl Cabañero Martínez and José Gallego García; fourth official José David Martínez Montalbán and following the action on the monitors in the VAR room, José Luis González González and Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva.