Atletico Madrid CEO blasts referee ‘system’ over Real Madrid defeat

Atletico Madrid executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin has lashed out at the performance of referee Cesar Soto Grado in Thursday’s Copa del Rey defeat to Real Madrid.

Alvaro Morata had fired Atletico ahead early on and, while the score was at 1-0, Grado declined to show a second yellow card to Real midfielder Dani Ceballos – a decision which was amplified when he did give Atletico defender Stefan Savic his marching orders later on.

Numerous figures associated with Atleti, including manager Diego Simeone, have spoken openly to accuse Grado of bias towards Real, and now CEO Gil Marin has chimed in as well.

“I have the utmost respect for the referee group and I am convinced that their intention is always the best,” he wrote. “But anyone who observes it from the outside can see the same thing has almost always happened for decades.

“Unfortunately, it no longer surprises anyone, it is not news. It’s something very obvious and you just have to remember the story.

“Madrid is a club with a very strong environment, with many interests around it. They create such pressure that it is normal for it to affect the people who must make decisions. They are aware of what awaits them if they harm them with a mistake. The campaign against who they consider is harming them is common.

“The system is like that and, from Atleti, we cannot change it alone. We must compete as far as we can and continue working to have a stronger and fairer sector with all the clubs. That stadium [the Bernabeu] and the colour of that shirt should not weign when making fair decisions. Our players suffered the consequences of all this pressure on the field and that outrages me, as it does any fan or any team.”

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On Savic’s red card, Gil Marin insisted he had no issues with the decision but demanded equality across the board, in reference to Ceballos’ survival.

“The second yellow [for Ceballos] was obvious, unquestionable, adjusted to the regulations,” the CEO continued. “But, at 0-1, in the 71st minute and with a ticket to the cup semi-finals at stake in their own stadium, leaving Real Madrid with ten players is a big move.

“We’re used to the system. We read pages and pages in the press, hours on the radio and television in the days leading up to the derby talking about the need to protect a certain player from a specific team. I think those who were not protected were [Antoine] Griezmann or Morata, for example, who were kicked. But that’s the system.

“I almost never speak, because they quickly accuse you or being a victim, but whoever really knows the DNA of Atletico Madrid knows that we don’t like to make excuses. So that nobody doubts, we are responsibe for where the team is, for not making it past the group stages in the Champions League and for being seven points behind third place in La Liga. And it’s up to us to take advantage of the 20 league games to close the season as high as possible. No excuses, but just being aware of how the system works.”

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