Last night, Real Madrid smashed Ajax 4 – 0 at Amsterdam Arena in a UEFA Champions League match.
Two of Madrid’s stars, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos were sent off after second cautions for deliberate time-wasting, allegedly ordered by José Mourinho. As a consequence, They will serve one-match suspensions in a meaningless final group match against Auxerre next month, then could start the UEFA Champions League knock-out rounds in February with a clean disciplinary slate.
After being sent off, neither player protested, and Ramos even shook hands with Scottish referee Craig Thomson before walking off the pitch.
Dutch broadcaster NOS showed footage of Madrid coach José Mourinho speaking to Alonso on the sideline before he picked up his second yellow. Mourinho also spoke on the bench with reserve goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek who seemed to then pass on a message to goalkeeper Iker Casillas, before Ramos was sent off.
The time wasting techniques annoyed the Dutch team. The Ajax captain happens to be Luis Suárez, that well known Uruguayan “pillar of fair play”, the one who gained notoriety in FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 by illegally handling a goal-bound shot with his hands, then celebrating as Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent last-minute penalty shot.
Suárez has also just been dubbed “the cannibal of Ajax” by the Dutch press, fined by his own club and could be banned for seven matches by the Dutch Football Federation after biting an opponent on the shoulder in the last league game against PSV.
Mourinho admitted it did not matter that Alonso and Ramos would miss their final group game, but insisted he still wanted to beat Auxerre at the Bernabéu in December.
Anyhow, article 10 of UEFA’s disciplinary code, allows for suspensions of more than one match in cases of unsporting conduct.
Paul Wilson (The Guardian) states:
UEFA now have a choice over whether to take any further action or sweep the matter under their capacious carpet. They probably ought not to do anything retrospectively, since any wrongdoing on the part of Alonso and Ramos would, even if proven, amount only to exploitation of an obvious and long-standing loophole in the rules as they presently stand. Plenty of other players have done the same. They could consider bringing in an umbrella charge for the future, that of bringing the game into disrepute, which carries a two- or three-match suspension, in the hope that such a threat would dissuade players from skulduggery. Perhaps something even more clever could be dreamed up. Dead rubbers could be excluded for suspension purposes, for example, or players warned in advance of these foreseeable and fairly regularly occurring situations that anything resembling a deliberate booking would count double.
Or maybe UEFA should simply ignore the fuss and carry on. It is not, after all, as if a major injustice has been perpetrated. Nothing comparable to what Suárez got away with in Soccer City in July. While one could feel a bit sorry for the referee in Amsterdam, sympathy was limited for the Ajax captain, and it is hard to cast Mourinho and his players as villains. Perhaps when you have qualified with a couple of games to spare, then taken a 4-0 lead away from home in your penultimate group match, you have earned the right to bend the rules a little. Even if it was not the most edifying of spectacles right at the end, there are definitely worse things in football to complain about.
Last time I checked, Fair Play was still one of football’s highest principles. Even though there have been terrible unpunished unsporting conducts in international football, such as Thierry Henry‘s and Suárez’s nasty handballs, UEFA should step up and rule according to its disciplinary code. Yes, Jose Mourinho is currently the best coach in the world and it is hard to cast him and his players as villains, but impeccable conduct must be observed in the pitch at all times by players and coaching staff, should any of them fail to do so, appropriate disciplinary measures ought to be taken.
November 24th, 2010.