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Spalletti's men are a work in progress

Inter Milan

Barca hit back at refs' chief

Barcelona have hit back at referees' chief Victoriano Arminio over his criticism of Gerard Pique and revealed they will not attend Tuesday's Spanish football federation (RFEF) meeting.

• Refs' chief to report Pique
• No agreement over Copa del Rey

Barca believe they have had poor luck with decisions throughout the season, and a row has erupted after Gerard Pique said he had "a feeling of premeditation" in relation to his dismissal during the weekend's 3-1 victory against Sporting Gijon.

Referees' chief Victoriano Arminio expressed outrage over Pique's comments and said the defender would be reported, but Tony Freixa, a spokesman for the Barca board, told a press conference that Arminio's comments represent "an opportunistic show for the benefit of the media that provoke discriminatory treatment in a top-level competition".

Freixa insists Barca are not blaming refereeing decisions for the fact they trail Real Madrid by ten points in La Liga but feels they have every right to be unhappy.

"Our place in the table isn't solely down to the officials," he said. "All I am saying is that we are not having any luck, but hopefully in the remainder of the season we will have no grounds to feel how we feel now."

He added: "We are talking about referees, but not criticising them. The job of a referee is very difficult. They make mistakes because it's a tough job. We stand by our policy of not discussing referees, but this year we have found that we are not having much luck."

Freixa added that Barca's response did not amount to a "tantrum" and said all at the club could be proud of their behaviour. "It should be noted that the behaviour of our players and coaching staff has been and is impeccable for Barcelona and the Spanish team," he said.

Freixa also said the club would not attend Tuesday's RFEF general assembly after their request to the Copa del Rey final at the Bernabeu had been declined.

Fellow finalists Athletic Bilbao had backed Barca's bid to play the final in the capital, but Real Madrid have claimed building work means it is not possible to do so, and it now appears likely the game will take place in Seville.

"We have agreed that we will not attend the meeting tomorrow regarding the venue for the Copa del Rey final," Freixa said. "We felt that our arguments weren't being taken into account."


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