Universidad Católica: The referee accused of betraying the team where he played

As has rarely been seen on a soccer field, Argentine Fernando Zampedri euphorically celebrated the shot he sent into the stands as regulation time expired. It was a throw-in, against Colo Colo, as a visitor, with one less player and seconds left before regulation time expired.

The classic that brought together the two most successful teams of the last decade in Chilean soccer was one to zero in favor of the Universidad Católica, but the flavor was more intense: the defeat left Colo Colo without options to compete for the title. The crusaders had played a stingy game, feigning infractions, demanding an unsanctioned penalty and locking themselves in their territory. Therefore, the 11 minutes of added time given by referee Felipe González did not seem exaggerated.

But the whites turned it around. A goal at 97 minutes and another at 101 gave them the three points, the joy of 40 thousand people and the hope of winning the crown. The rival, obviously, complained about the arbitration, as has always happened since the game was a game.

However, the young coach from the Catholic University broke the mold. In the locker room, already calm, Nicolás Nuñez said that “we don’t want Felipe González to referee us anymore. It is evident that there is something personal about him; frustration, resentment at having belonged to this club and not having continued participating.”

Indeed, González entered the sub 10 category at the Catholic University in the mid-nineties. He was, originally, a mixed midfielder who handled the ball well, to the point that his teammates called him Guille, for his desire to imitate Barros Schelotto. He was at the club for a decade, where he moved down positions on the field until he became a defender. When he had to decide on his move to the first team, they told him that he would not continue. He was never in the category of Nicolás Nuñez, but they crossed paths in the locker room more than once.

González extended his career in Hossana, an evangelical team that played in the Third Division, and then turned professional in San Luis in 2004. His best moment came the following year, when he joined Santiago Morning’s team as a defender, winning the champion of the Primera B, with Esteban Paredes, the historic scorer of Chilean soccer as a partner.

He was able to continue climbing, but a cruciate ligament injury forced him to give up at age 27. Following the advice of his father, he became a referee, he reached the honor division and today he is the president of the Professional Judges Union, with an advantage over his peers: he handles the cloth. In an environment where referees are often criticized for their lack of knowledge of the game, of empathy with the player and of interpreting the regulations carefully, Felipe González accumulated advantages.

Until he sent off Gary Kagelmacher for running out of time, he did not sanction a penalty against Clemente Montes and applied 11 minutes of added time in the most spicy classic of recent times on national fields.

Revenge? Any grudges held? González’s football past was never an issue until now, neither for nor against the clubs where he played and even less so of his training home, the Catholic University. But in a duel where tradition, the struggle accumulated in recent years and, above all, personal disputes ended, in an unusual way, provoking an unprecedented debate.

A coach and a referee who shared minor series are today hopelessly at odds. As if to never cross paths again.

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