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El Clasico referee spotted carrying a Real Madrid gift bag in 2017



Photo via Imago

With the hugely anticipated, season-defining El Classico coming up, even the slightest piece of news on who will be appointed as the referee of the game has been a hot topic of discussion. It was seemingly set to be the controversial yet experienced Mateu Lahoz. However, in a turn of events, Lahoz has been ruled out of the game due to injury. Jesus Gil Manzano is set to take his place, with the Spanish referee in his ninth season officiating in La Liga.

Interestingly, another controversy has developed, with an old image of Manzano from 2017 having resurfaced. In the 16/17 season, Real Madrid faced Villareal with the 37-year-old referee officiating the match. Having gone 2-0 down at the Estadio de la Cerámica, Los Blancos managed to crunch out a 2-3 comeback win. Despite securing the victory, the game was not without controversy due to a questionable call from the referee.

Manzano had awarded a penalty to Los Vikingos after claiming that Toni Kroos’ shot had taken a deflection before the Villareal goalkeeper handled it in the penalty area. The questionable call eventually had a huge hand in lending Madrid the victory, with Ronaldo’s goal from the penalty spot being crucial in the game’s final outcome.

Additionally, Manzano was pictured leaving the stadium with a white bag stamped with Los Blancos’ logo on it. This image had been a large source of controversy, once again resurfacing on the eve of the upcoming El Classico. With the Spanish referee officiating the game, several fans are nervous as to his potential bias, specifically given that it is likely he is a fan of Real Madrid.

Hopefully, there is no meaning to the image, and Manzano can carry out his job in a professional manner, which is more likely to be the case. Nevertheless, concern from the fanbase is not entirely unwarranted.

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