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Xavi ‘sad’ for Barcelona’s relegation chants

Xavi Hernández said he was surprised and saddened by the hostility towards Barcelona from Athletic Bilbao supporters during his team’s 1-0 win at San Mamés on Sunday.

Raphinha scored the only goal of the game to restore Barca’s nine-point lead at the top of La Liga as Athletic fans protested after allegations the Catalan club bought favorable treatment from referees.

The local fans threw bills marked “mafia $” and the Barça shield onto the field of play during the first half and clamored for Xavi’s men to be relegated “to the Second Division”.

“I respect the San Mamés fans,” Xavi said at the post-match press conference. They have always treated me well, but the hostile environment towards Barça has surprised me.

“It was sad to see that (Barça) is being judged before its time, which I don’t think is good for society. Everyone is free to (express their opinion), and I respect all opinions, whether they agree with it or not. they”. but it saddened me.”

Pressed on whether he expected the same atmosphere in other upcoming games and if it had an effect on his players, Xavi said: “I have nothing more to add, (only that) makes me sad.”

“We haven’t talked about it in the dressing room with the players,” he said. “We are here to win and we are focused on football. We are all professionals.”

Prosecutors brought corruption charges against Barcelona on Friday following the disclosure of payments totaling 7 million euros to a company owned by the former vice-chairman of the arbitration committee between 2001 and 2018.

Former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, along with former referee José María Enríquez Negreira, are also among the accused.

Barca vehemently deny any wrongdoing and say they have never bought referees or influence and that they were paying Negreira for “technical reports on refereeing.”

On Sunday, Real Madrid said that it would join the complaint filed by the prosecutor’s office against Barça, which caused blaugrana President Joan Laporta tweeted again the “innocence” of the club, alleging that they are “victims of a campaign” against him.

Later on Sunday, Barca won 1-0 in La Liga for the ninth time in the league this season to strengthen their grip on top spot ahead of next weekend. classic against Madrid at the Camp Nou.

Athletic, who hit the post twice, thought they had scored a late equalizer through Iñaki Williams, but their joy was cut short when referee Gil Manzano disallowed the goal for an earlier handball from Iker Muniain.

“I’ve seen the images and I don’t know if it’s more of a shoulder or an arm,” Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde said. “But it is not about that, it is a question of what is football and what is not.

“I think that the VAR is there to correct flagrant errors. That’s why he entered. Big mistakes. Balls that have entered or not, penalties. To call the referee to see if he touches (a hand) or not five passes before. I don’t know if that belongs to the world of football.”

Xavi said, after reviewing the images, that it was a “clear hand”, but acknowledged that his team was not at its best against Athletic despite registering its 19th clean sheet in 25 league games.

“It is true that we have to play better, but this is a difficult place to get to,” said the Barça coach. “It is normal to suffer in San Mamés, but it is a vital victory.

“We knew it would be a difficult game away from home. We still have a nine-point lead and we’re going into the Clásico with confidence. But we have to improve, especially in attack”.