Inside Spain: Franco accusations, refereeing scandal explanations and the end of the Joaquin era

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Inside Spain is a weekly instalment brought to you by Football España, providing an insight into all of the major stories coming out of the rich and intense climes of La Liga and beyond.

It was another chaotic week in Spain, so much to the point that Real Madrid’s Champions League win over Chelsea felt like background news.

Los Blancos set up a showdown with Manchester City in the semi-finals, and will hope to make it there without too many injury issues. David Alaba should be back after a muscle tear, but he has struggled to come back on several occasions this season.

The reason that was background news was because of the Negreira case, Barcelona’s refereeing scandal. President Joan Laporta spoke for over two hours on Monday, defending the club. He claimed that Barcelona had done nothing wrong, but had been the victim of a public lynching and were being judged without all the evidence. He said he saw no conflict with paying, for reports on referees, the vice-president of the Referees Committee €7m over 17 years.

Curiously he singled out Javier Tebas, the La Liga President, and Real Madrid. Laporta referred to their rivals with a baseless claim that they were the ‘team of the regime’, and for them to portray themselves as a victim of refereeing decisions was an ‘act of maximum cynicism’.

Real Madrid responded with an outrageous and incendiary video on their social media, where for four minutes they suggested Barcelona were favoured by former dictator Francisco Franco, with a highly selective use of facts.

Laporta was strong in his statements against what he called a campaign with no evidence.

Laporta seems to have agreed to stop that rhetoric as he visited a La Liga assembly, explaining himself again. The general feeling after both events was that his arguments did not allay fears that Barcelona were innocent. Perhaps then it is no coincidence that on Thursday news started to leak out that Barcelona were close to agreeing a viability plan with La Liga to bring back Lionel Messi.

Elsewhere Sevilla go into their tie against Manchester United feeling good about themselves, having beaten Valencia 2-0 and moved eight points clear of the drop. Los Che on the other hand are looking ominously poor, and are four points adrift with just nine games to go.

The shock news was that Real Betis captain, leader and legend Joaquin would be retiring at the end of the season. The 41-year-old has scored 112 club goals, given 102 asssists and made 839 appearances, to which 51 international caps for Spain, 4 goals and 4 assists can be added. He will leave the game after 23 seasons, and if he appears in eight of their last nine remaining games, Joaquin will end his career as the most capped player in La Liga history, beating Andoni Zubizarreta’s record of 622.

He bid farewell at an emotional event, where he could barely get through the tears, one of the bigger characters in Spanish football set to leave the pitch.


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