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elpresidente On December - 1 - 2011

Monday Focus On: Intentional Yellows

Gerard Pique received his fifth card of the season in the dying moments of Barcelona´s clash against Rayo Vallecano. He will miss the coming match at Levante, but there are movements afoot, as is reporting, that are very much considering extending the one-match ban for time-wasting to include the following round´s match against Real Madrid. It´s a bone of contention every year. Everyone does it, players want to clear their dance cards before rushing into an important match, Pique was clearly trying to avoid the card against the Granotes to prepare himself for the game at the Bernabeu, but this time it´s part of the regulations. In the Competition Committee bylaws, Article 112 to be exact, a player who instigates the card by his own actions can be given an extra game´s ban and a 600 euro fine. The fine is minuscule by today´s standards, but the match ban is more than a bit harsh in my mind. How to you legislate intent? Pique comes up to take the goal-kick, stutter steps and readjusts his leggings and then gets carded by referee Perez-Lasa after a 4 second delay, and then you say that it deserves a two-match ban? Even though Perez-Lasa never mentioned the card in his post-match report?

Xabi Alonso got a similar ban against Atlético Madrid this last weekend. I´d say Real Madrid are more reliant on the services of Alonso in fact than Barcelona are with Pique. Are we looking at a similar match ban and fine against the Spanish international midfielder? Jose Mourinho stated before the match that Alonso would not intentionally seek the extra-card to leave himself free for the Clásico next week. Is that any different? I´m sorry, but it´s a non-story to me. Gamesmanship has been a part of the game since the very beginning. Yes, even the English who invented the game were just as much interested in bending the rules from day one as the countries they taught the game to. Is it any better to save players with phantom injuries before a big-match? I don´t think so. We get caught in the pre-match hype, and the newspapers perform their function in firing preliminary salvos against the other side, but in the end it is so much to do about nothing. Both players play and the game goes on as planned. Stay tuned here for predictions next week.

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