Saturday’s El Clasico at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami gave over 66,000 spectators the opportunity to watch the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Gareth Bale, but the lasting legacy of this match will probably be the confrontation between Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic and American referee Jair Marrufo.
Rakitic’s goal in the 7th minute gave Barca an early 2-0 lead, but his 73 minutes on the pitch weren’t entirely enjoyable.
Rakitic's goal vs Real Madrid! It looks so beautiful when the ball gets in the back of Madrid's net! pic.twitter.com/GqJQvUzRWJ— Barcelona Worldwide (@BarcaWorldwide) July 30, 2017
“People who know me are aware that it is difficult to wind me up but the referee did,” said Rakitic after the game. “He insulted me quite strongly three times. I usually have a lot of respect for them but when they don’t show it to me, then I don’t like it.”
Rakitic and the referee could be seen in a heated exchange, and Marrufo even appeared to square up with the Croatian before bumping into him. This just isn’t something you see very often.
The ref and Rakitic pushing each other. pic.twitter.com/6ywjkVhJlJ— Juan Saravia (@Juan_Saravia7) July 30, 2017
Marrufo is a high profile referee in Major League Soccer. He was infamously suspended during the 2009 MLS season for a series of poor performances, resulting in his removal from the 2010 World Cup referee list.
Marrufo was also in the middle during the heated 2014 MLS All-Star Game featuring Bayern Munich, when Pep Guardiola refused to shake Caleb Porter’s hand because of an adjudged over-physicality from the All-Stars.