I touched upon this topic a little bit in my last article so apologies for any repetition you might encounter in this one.
I felt I had to elaborate on this just to lay down some facts, some myths and some beliefs that people have on the matter so you can decide for yourself just what you think is 'right' or 'wrong'.
There are two beliefs on this: those who believe this is fact and those who believe this is just nonsense and just a way of getting one over on Barcelona. First of all, the theory dates back to before Barcelona took centre stage, before they had this untouchable profile - it dates back to 2006 when they beat Arsenal in the Champions League final.
Yes, the one where Jens Lehman took down Eto'o and was sent off, after which Sol Campbell headed them in front only to concede twice in the last 14 minutes to lose 2-1. This match was where I believe the first leak of the Barca-UEFA conspiracy was seen. Thierry Henry, the peak of his career breaking records left, right and centre was furious with the referee and commented on how decisions went Barcelona's way and had Arsenal done the same then maybe things would of been different.
He said: "We can be more than proud but I'm sorry, some of the refereeing was horrendous"... a comment which becomes almost a catchphrase from here on.
He mentions that he was being thrown all over the place and their defenders were getting away with not even a yellow, he also mentions how Van Bommel kicks him in front of the bench, yet Henry is the man to be cautioned. There are more incidents from different accounts (Cesc Fabregas is one) but to talk about them all would be going off topic a little.
Accusations like these happen all the time in football, to various different teams at various different points of a season, yet there is something about the frequency of the remarks being made towards Barcelona that tells you that something more could be made of them.
Lets go to 2009 shall we, the place - Stamford Bridge. It's the second leg of the Champions League semi-final between Chelsea and...Barcelona. After a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou, Chelsea had high hopes for this game and were feeling confident having not lost the first leg.
Michael Essien fired Chelsea in front with a superb 20-yard strike in the ninth minute, to get the fans really going. To help things, Barcelona's Eric Abidal was sent off in the 66th minute and things looked swell for Chelsea as they appeared all set for a second Champions League final date with Manchester United. Well, everything changed when Iniesta fired a stoppage time equaliser to send Chelsea out of the Champions League. A thrilling game for a neutral by the sounds of it? Well...
If you look at the highlights you can see at least four penalty appeals in which Chelsea had in that game - all turned down. The first, Malouda is wrestled to the ground inside the box after some coming together shortly before, if it's not a penalty surely there is no advantage so it must at least be a free kick?
The referee wasn't having it. Second one is stone-wall, Drogba has his shirt pulled in clear vision of everyone in the box by Abidal, yet the referee sees no foul. Now there is a pulling of his shirt and Drogba rightly stays on his feet to try and score, then he is bundled over to the point where he can no longer stay balanced, should strikers always stay on their feet then? An example of reputation coming before the player...
The third appeal is the one that extremely frustrates not only myself, but anyone who wants the linesman to do their job in the game, Pique's handball. The handball is so blatant I can hardly believe I'm discussing it. It is in clear view of the linesman, yet for some bizarre reason he doesn't decide to give it (I believe the time played a factor in the decision, it being in the 83rd minute). The final decision, in the 95th minute Eto'o handballs it after they had just equalised, right in front of the referee, so obviously that Ballack chases the referee all the way down the pitch.
This is the kind of treatment that has fuelled these theories and given them so much material that is beyond the point of saying 'referee error' because they are so drastic and so frequent. Tom Ovrebo hasn't officiated a UEFA Champions League game since this dismal display.
The best is yet to come - apparently the UEFA official website leaked a photo of the correct result of the game hours before kick off, which not only had the correct score but also the fact that Barcelona would score a late equaliser...convinced yet?
Now, to 2011, the place - Santiago Bernabeu. It's another Champions League semi-final for you. The words spoken by Jose Mourinho on this match day are so powerful, it is perhaps the focal point for anyone who believes there is something going on. Mourinho's men lost 2-0 to Barcelona, Pepe was sent off and Mourinho himself was sent to the stands - but these events are not unheard of in the footballing world. It was what Jose said in his post match interview which has a lot of material to analyse.
Mourinho recalls one of my previous comments on the 2009 scandal by saying: "I would have been embarrassed to win that title (in 2009) because it was won with the scandal of Stamford Bridge and this one will be won with the scandal of the Bernabeu. I hope one day Josep Guardiola wins a Champions League title as it should be - perfect, spotless, without any scandal."
He later mentions the conspiracy that UEFA have to help Barcelona win games, but the statement he makes about Pep is one to consider as a mind game with his opponent. He later says no one has a chance really, meaning you can play the best football you have, but the powers are far greater than you can imagine, and if it's not UEFA fixing the games, it is a force on the field in the referee or linesman.
He suggests this conspiracy has been going on for quite a while and has taken time to achieve, by saying: "Congratulations because they are a fantastic football team but congratulations for everything else they have. It has to be very difficult to achieve this kind of power. The others have no chance."
You can tell he has thought about this idea for quite some time and that before now, he didn't truly believe it existed - at least he didn't want to believe. He knows that it exists, but the power to change it does not exist, because UEFA and Barcelona will not concede to ever having such a bond.
"If I say what I think my career ends today. I can't say what I feel. I only leave one question. Why?"
This quote from Mourinho is perhaps the most powerful of them all. He knows what is going on and would be tempted to mention it during the interview, but the secrets are so great he knows that they will end his career, a gamble not worth taking. His career would end meaning they will win and all that will happen is people will believe he is being bitter, pathetic and a 'sore loser' because such accusations are outrageous.
You can take what you want from this article, but when Jose Mourinho retires, I believe the book he writes will include his thoughts on the matter and only then will we find out more about this.
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