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Barca boss urges probe of match-fixing claim

RONALDO MADRID

Cristiano Ronaldo in a past La Liga match against rivals Barcelona. PHOTO/FILE

MADRID, October 24 – Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has urged for a full investigation into claims by an anonymous assistant referee that he was pressured to prejudice Barca’s interests in a match against Real Madrid next month.

The official alleged in a court filing presented to anti-corruption authorities in Barcelona this week that he had been asked by a senior referee to make the controversial calls against Barca in the game on November 21 because the referee himself would be subject to more scrutiny from the media.

However, the accusations have been met with some scepticism in Spain due to its anonymous nature and the fact the referee for the match in question has yet to be chosen by the referee’s committee.

“It is news that continues to surprise us and isn’t nice to see, so I hope it is fully investigated to avoid any risk to our football,” Enrique said on Saturday.

Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez dismissed the claims as “not serious” on Friday, but Enrique insisted it wouldn’t shock him to find out the accusation is true.

“I am not going to speculate about these things. I repeat that it seems very serious. Referees already have a difficult enough job without adding more fuel to the fire.

“What seems logical and licit to me is that it is fully investigated to see if it is true or it is something that someone has invented.

“In this country I believe anything can happen.”

On the field, Enrique confirmed that Andres Iniesta is in contention to make his return from injury against Eibar on Sunday after a month out with a hamstring injury.

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And the Barca boss also took the chance to send club legend Johan Cruyff the best wishes on the part of the playing and coaching staff after the Dutchman was diagnosed with lung cancer this week.

“It is very sad news. We wish him all the best and know he will overcome this as he has other problems throughout his life.”

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