“Referees do not come from Mars. You start being a ref because you like football, and if you like football, I don’t believe there is a single person that that doesn’t like a team,” he said.
“I’m lucky to have been born in Bilbao, and in Bilbao, people are for Athletic. However, the majority of the rest of Spain are for Real Madrid or Barcelona because those are the teams that win, and that’s that.
“And so, if the referees come from there, the majority are for Real Madrid. And that does not mean that when they referee a Madrid match they are not professional.”
Iturralde González refereed La Liga for over a decade and was in charge of El Clásico three times.
“[Barcelona and Madrid’ are the same to me, I’m for Athletic,” he reflected.
“Whether Barcelona fans like it or not, 70% of the population - with the exception of Catalonia - is for Madrid. Nowdays, there are more Barcelona people, young people caught Pep Guardiola’s titles. But before the Lionel Messi era, how many people in Spain were for Madrid?“