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Barcelona suspect assistant referee of dressing room “spying” after Atlético win

Raul Cabañero had already been asked to leave at half time and was seen lurking outside at full time.

Raul Cabañero had already been asked to leave at half time and was seen lurking outside at full time.
Rodolfo MolinaDiarioAS

There was plenty of post-match controversy following Barcelona’s LaLiga victory over Atlético Madrid on Sunday. According to sources consulted by AS, the Catalans believe one of the assistant referees, Raúl Cabañero, attempted to listen in to what was being said in the home dressing room after the full-time whistle.

Assistant referee Cabañero “eavesdropping” on Barça dressing room

While Xavi Hernández and his players were out on the field celebrating the 1-0 win at Montjuïc, members of Barça’s backroom staff made their way back to the dressing room and could be heard complaining about a free-kick that had given against them on the edge of their own box near the end of the game by match official José María Sánchez Martínez. At that point, Cabañero reportedly left the referees’ dressing room and made his way towards Barça’s, with La Blaugrana feeling there was some eavesdropping going on.

Barcelona press officer Edu Polo, who was waiting for the players to arrive back at the dressing room, asked Cabañero what he was doing there. “My job,” came the response from the assistant referee, who asked Polo to identify himself and alerted Sánchez Martínez via his earpiece.

Official asked to leave at half time

Xavi and his players then arrived, with the match official asking the Barça head coach if he knew who Polo was. “Of course,” he replied. Sánchez Martínez then indicated he wanted “talks” between the parties involved, at which point the matter went no further. Barcelona, however, are convinced Cabañero was trying to listen in to what was being discussed in the home dressing room, which is far from being standard practice.

The assistant had already gone in at half time to check the Barça players’ kit and tell them when they had to go back out for the second half, which was also unusual, with officials normally carrying out checks in the tunnel and knocking on the door to signal when it’s time to go. In fact, one member of Barcelona’s security team asked him to leave and warned him he wasn’t allowed inside.

Barça’s strained relationship with referees

The Catalans have had something of a strained relationship with referees this season, which president Joan Laporta even referred to last weekend when he claimed his team should have had a penalty in the LaLiga game against Rayo Vallecano for a foul on Raphinha.

On the opening day of the season, they were give a last-minute penalty in the 0-0 draw at Getafe which was then overturned after Gavi was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball. VAR also overturned a sport-kick that was awarded for a foul on Lamine Yamal away to Mallorca, while Barça felt they should have had a penalty in El Clásico against Real Madrid for a perceive foul on Ronald Araújo by Aurélien Tchouaméni when they were 1-0 up (they ultimately lost 2-1).

VAR did at least help them out against Real Sociedad in San Sebastián, awarding Araújo a late winner after it had initially been ruled out for offside.