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Jan 22, 2014

Does Club America play with 12 men?

The "prophecies of Ricardo 'Tuca' Ferreti" are becoming a reality...

We returned to an old tradition in Mexican soccer: trying to justify Club America's wins.

Both victories, each of the six points collected by Club America in the tournament, have been "tarnished" --if not by "bloodshed," which would perhaps be an exaggeration-- by refereeing decisions, but the question is still the same: Are they voluntary mistakes or are they part of the old belief that refereeing --almost systematically-- ends up favoring Club America?

And it wasn't simply a contact outside the area that the referee decided to call inside. Add to that a strict send-off that ended up by "burying" the visitor's intentions and a clear penalty --the fourth one in the tournament so far-- that the referee decided not to call against the "powerful" local team. Tuca's "prophecies" that stipulate that Club America plays with 12 men are proven week in and week out.

However, some people believe that the Club America issue is only part of the media's reflection of the problem. "It's nothing against Club America," says former international referee Felipe Ramos Rizo, who today is the refereeing specialist at ESPN Deportes. "The problem is the pressure under which referees work. They aren't ready for that and it ends up affecting their work, but in terms of Club America, favoring Club America has only been a coincidence."

What is not a coincidence, and what those of us who believe in another hypothesis are not making up, is the direct or indirect relationship between Club America and refereeing in the history of Mexican soccer. A decades-long relationship settled and fostered by the interests, the industry and the game. Club America is the "power" team that represents "power." The Mexican Soccer Federation (FMF) President and the Liga MX President are also executives at the company that owns Club America. Am I telling any lies? If rules and legality present an unstable panorama in Mexican soccer, it's easy to suppose that one things leads you to another. How closely do refereeing, interests and Club America live, breathe and coexist in Mexican soccer?

I don't know if the refereeing problem is easy to solve or not, but I would start by injecting strength, independence, personality and that will most likely help the "men in black" to take better and clearer decisions on the soccer pitch. Until that happens, Mexican soccer will be condemned to live eternally under the suspicion that something shady is happening, that the interests and refereeing play in favor of the powerful one.