Former La Liga referee Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez has made explosive claims about Real Madrid's clout in Spanish football.
Gonzalez claimed that over 90% of the referees in La Liga heavily favour Real Madrid, while the rest owe their allegiance to Real Madrid's arch-rivals Barcelona.
In an interview with Spanish channel Cadena Ser, Gonzalez claimed that Real Madrid is a favourite among the referees because a majority of the country grows up supporting Los Blancos.
"Around 90% go with Real and 10% with Barcelona. Whether Barca fans like it or not, 70% of the Spanish population, excluding Catalonia, are Real Madrid supporters."
Former referee claims over 70% of Spain supports Real Madrid
The former referee also claimed that while the general trend keeps changing, Real Madrid continues to be at the top in Spanish football owing to their massive sway over a large section of the population.
In terms of popularity, Barcelona has managed to claw its way back into the contest with Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola being the primary catalysts. According to the Gonzalez, however, Real Madrid still occupies the top spot.
"There are more Barca fans these days because the younger generation has seen the trophies they won under Pep Guardiola. But before the 'Lionel Messi era,' how many people supported Madrid in Spain? About 70%?"
The former referee acknowledges that it is only natural for football officials to support popular football teams in Real Madrid. Gonzalez stated that referees cannot be expected to be unbiased off the pitch and are usually inspired by the likes of Real Madrid to take up careers in football.
"The majority of referees are Real Madrid supporters. We don't come from Mars. You become a referee because you like football and there's no one that likes football that doesn't have a team."
Gonzalez has officiated tense matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. He was the referee in Barcelona's famous 5-0 demolition of Real Madrid in 2010.
The 2010 encounter between Barcelona and Real Madrid saw a Lionel Messi and David Villa masterclass that resulted in Real Madrid being put to the sword.
A harsh tackle on Lionel Messi saw Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos receive a red card from Gonzalez in the dying moments of the game.
Gonzalez said that he is one of the few remaining individuals in Spain who support neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona. The Basque referee declared his allegiance to Atheltic Bilbao, but also mentioned that it resulted in a bias against his favourite team in several La Liga fixtures
"I'm lucky to have been born in Bilbao. Everyone is Athletic there. But in the rest of Spain, the majority are Real Madrid of Barcelona fans, because they're the teams that win. And that's how it is. And the majority are Real Madrid."
Real Madrid and Barcelona find themselves at loggerheads with each other very often. La Liga's giants frequently present formal complaints to the federation accusing each other of influencing decisions in big games.
While the sensational claims made by Gonzalez do not amount to concrete evidence, they certainly indicate that La Liga's referees might be influenced by their preconceived notions of Real Madrid.