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FOOTBALL

Is it time La Liga introduced video referees?

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique stressed his desire for Spanish football to embrace video technology in crucial refereeing decisions on Wednesday, whilst league chiefs expect trials to take place from next season.

Is it time La Liga introduced video referees?
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique stressed his desire for Spanish football to embrace video technology in crucial refereeing decisions on Wednesday, whilst league chiefs expect trials to take place from ne

Barça were denied a clear goal in Sunday's controversial 1-1 draw at Real Betis when referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez failed to see the ball had crossed the Betis goal line and was unaided as, unlike Europe's other major leagues, La Liga doesn't have goal line technology.

“I think we have to differentiate between video refereeing which means re-refereeing many things and I am not in favour of…and helping the referees with technology in key moments of the game,” said Enrique ahead of his side's Copa del Rey semi-final, first leg at Atletico Madrid.

“A ball over the line or disallowed goal or red card offence…these are the plays where the referees need help and would only lose two or three seconds to check and clarify.”

La Liga president Javier Tebas has previously dismissed the use of Hawk-Eye technology used for goal line incidents in other leagues on cost grounds and believes the type of video refereeing, trialed by FIFA at December's Club World Cup, is a cheaper and more practical resource for the future.

“We have always defended the use of technology in football and in this case we believe video refereeing is the most advanced form,” Tebas said on Monday.   

“The cost was almost €4.5 million euros ($4.8 million).

Every year there are seven or eight incidents like this and it seemed to us a fortune when there
are other (technologies) in the market at a far lower cost.

“In Spain we have to agree with the referees' committee and we have already communicated to them that next year there will be trials like there are in the Bundesliga or Premier League.”

And Tebas believes all the major leagues will move towards a system of video refereeing for controversial incidents by 2018 should FIFA approve.   

“By July 2018 if FIFA have already definitively approved it we will install (video refereeing),” added Tebas.

“Given how the trials are going by July 2018 there will be video refereeing in all professional leagues.”

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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