Referees undermining title race says Spanish league

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MADRID, May 22 (Reuters) The Spanish Football League (LFP) has accused Primera Liga referees of undermining the title race after officials refused to fall in line with disciplinary reporting guidelines.

The dispute originated because referees were unhappy that the league overturned a booking against Real Madrid's David Beckham and reacted by refusing to follow Federation rules in explaining red and yellow card decisions in sufficient detail.

''They are falsifying and undermining the competition by their actions,'' a spokesman for the LFP told Reuters today.

''They are breaking the rules and disciplinary action should be taken against them.'' ''The race for the title in Spain is very close this season and they are prejudicing the interests of a lot of clubs by their action,'' he added.

For the past two rounds of Primera Liga matches referees have refused to detail in their reports why bookings were given, stating simply that they were given ''for unsporting behaviour'' or ''infringing the rules of the game''.

As a result the Federation's disciplinary committee has not suspended players who were booked, saying they did not have sufficient information to take any action in case of appeal from the clubs.

The LFP, which runs the Primera Liga, said they had made an official complaint to the Spanish Football Federation's disciplinary committee asking for immediate action to be taken.

According to the Federation's statutes, referees that fail to describe the reason for bookings in sufficient detail are liable to be banned for between two and four months and those who do it deliberately can be suspended for up to a year.

The referees' action was prompted by the committee's decision to overturn a yellow card awarded to Beckham for time wasting against Athletic Bilbao following an appeal from the club.

The decision meant that the midfielder avoided a suspension and was therefore able to play in the crucial league clash against Sevilla on May 6.

Up to 13 players avoided suspension for last weekend's matches. Another 10 are due to be banned for the upcoming round of games.


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