Elche felt they were hard done by in their 2-1 defeat to Barcelona on Sunday. Memphis Depay emphatically scored the winning goal from the penalty spot after Barragán was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the Elche box. There was more controversary at the other end when Elche appealed for their own penalty for an incident involving Jordi Alba.
VAR gets in the way
I didn't think either of them were handballs. The Old Testament says that neither deserved to be penalties, and that's how referee Hernández Hernández saw them. VAR referee De Burgos called Hernández Hernández to take another look because after all, Barça are Barça and Elche are Elche. In the Jordi Alba incident, De Burgos didn't call him over to the pitch-side screen, perhaps for the same reason I have just said: Elche are Elche and Barça are Barça.
Then, later in the evening, we saw another handball by Sabaly at the Benito Villamarín, one that wouldn't have been caught even in the Old Testament. It was a clear handball to get the ball away from João Félix, just like a point guard in basketball, who snatches the ball from his opponent. Referee Cuadra Fernández did not see it. What is hard to admit is that Iglesias Villanueva did not see it in the VAR room either. The unofficial explanation is that "he is not very interventionist". So there is no Real Betis or Atlético Madrid here, just an abstentionist.
I am fed up with these things. I'm fed up with not knowing what is a handball and what isn't, or thinking that I do know and that there is a refereeing system that makes a mockery of fans. And at the forefront of it all is Medina Cantalejo, who wasted his first appearance in his Sevillian grievances instead of sending a clear message about what he intends to do as head of refereeing. Next time, I'd like him to show us twenty yes, twenty no and twenty 50-50 handballs and explain why yes, why no and why 'we'll see'. But I'm afraid he won't give us that pleasure.