Barcelona boss Koeman backs 'honest' La Liga referees after Pique's claims of Real Madrid bias


Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman says he disagrees with Gerard Pique's comments on La Liga referees, having been pleased with the levels of officiating during his first few months in charge at Camp Nou.

Pique made headlines last week for suggesting that officials in the Spanish top-flight tend to favour Real Madrid above all other teams.

The Blaugrana defender has been outspoken about referees influencing the final destination of the Liga title in the past, and he offered another frank assessment of the state of play during an interview with Post United.

"The other day a former referee said that 85 per cent of the referees are from Madrid,” said Pique.

“How are they not going to whistle in favour of Madrid? Even unconsciously, how are they not going to give more for one side than the other?"

However, Koeman does not share the same opinion on match officials as the World Cup winner, with the Dutchman insisting he has yet to see any examples of biased decision-making in La Liga.

"Those are [Pique's] words. I can only comment on this year, not on previous seasons," Koeman told a press conference ahead of Barca's trip to Real Betis on Sunday.

"There are decisions in which we have had no luck, but I don't think they are against us. They are decisions of the referee and also VAR.

"I always think that the attitudes of the referees are honest. They give what they see and are not in favour of any team."

Barca head into their latest fixture at Benito Villamarín Stadium fresh from a thrilling 5-3 Copa del Rey quarter-final victory over Granada, during which Antoine Griezmann scored crucial goals either side of extra time.

The Frenchman is starting to produce his best form on a regular basis after a tough start to life at Camp Nou, but Koeman says he has always had faith in the striker's ability. 

"I remember that I called him when I signed for Barcelona," he said. "I told him that I had a lot of confidence in him. I told him that he should know that he is important.

"Although he started without effectiveness, he has recovered. I have never doubted him. Besides, he is also his own critic.

"You can't ask for more from Griezmann, he's very important to us."

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Koeman went on to express his belief that Barca can still win the Liga title, despite the fact they are currently sitting ten points behind Atletico Madrid in the standings having played a game more.

"There is always hope," he said. "There is a big gap in terms of points and [Atletico] have played a game less.

"We have to keep winning games but it's very difficult. We are hopeful because we have improved in many aspects."