No discrimination in Liga MX case

Mexico’s head of refereeing has vigorously denied the accusations made by a fired Liga MX referee who claims his dismissal was racially motivated.

Arturo Brizio, head of Mexican Football Federation’s (FMF) refereeing committee, denied there was any discrimination involved in the firing of Adalid Maganda on Tuesday.

A statement by the FMF on Monday before Maganda’s official dismissal stated that he was let go for poor performance, moonlighting in non-sanctioned matches during the coronavirus pandemic, and a lack of familiarity with VAR, among other issues.

“Absolutely not,” Brizio said in an interview with ESPN Deportes on Wednesday when asked if Maganda was unfairly fired. “He accepted the rules and has broken them repeatedly.”

Maganda has threatened to involve FIFA in the dispute, which Brizio responded by stating: “We’re calm and we won’t be blackmailed.”

While Maganda admitted to having officiated a non-sanctioned amateur match in his own interview with ESPN Deportes on Tuesday, he disputed claims about his physical fitness, and accused Brizio of not extending invitations to seminars on how to work with VAR.

In 2018, Maganda staged a hunger strike outside of the FMF offices in Toluca in order to protest a previous firing. He was quickly reinstated. Among other claims, Maganda accused Brizio of referring to him by his skin color, and since harboring a grudge over the public nature of the protest in 2018.

Brizio has brushed those claims aside, pointing to Maganda’s final performance, a Jan. 10 match between Toluca and Queretaro in which the referee stirred up fans with controversial calls, as the final blow.

“The match [between Toluca and Queretaro] was very bad, in refereeing terms,” Brizio said.

However, Brizio’s own review of the match only hours after it ended seemed to defend Maganda, siding with the referee on most of the disputed plays. The incident has prompted other experts to weigh in, including former Liga MX referee Paul Delgadillo, who believes Maganda’s firing was not racially motivated, but handled badly by Brizio.

“My reading is it’s not an issue of race, but it’s a pathetic way to take on the topic of a referee without a future,” Delgadillo told ESPN Mexico. “[The refereeing committee has] no tact to tell them they’re not good enough for Liga MX, they don’t sit down and talk with them, and that’s not just in Adalid’s case.”

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