When you're on top of the world, like FC Barcelona was for more than four years, you make lots of friends, lots of fans, but you make even more enemies. So, when you're down, like FC Barcelona is now, after the second loss to Real Madrid in five days and the third in its last four games, expect somebody to step on your neck rather than help or let you get up back on your feet by yourself. To Barça fans referee Miguel Angel Perez Lasa did just that, when he swallowed his whistle instead of coughing into it to award the visitors an obvious penalty kick after Real's defender Sergio Ramos fouled Adriano inside the box in the waning moments of Saturday's El Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.
After the play Barcelona players Iniesta, Piqué and Busquets ran after the ref like cops after bank robbers. The robber, err, ref brusquely stopped his run and thinking Iniesta wanted to play Monopoly showed the fuming Barça player the "Get Out of Jail" yellow card. Then Victor Valdes, Barcelona's goalkeeper, and also captain in this game, performed the most courageous, if superfluous and probably in the long run costly, act he has done for his team in a long time. Barely holding his hands from the ref's neck, Victor yelled, in colorful Spanish, "You have no shame" repeatedly, along with assorted adjectives, most of which are not publishable.
Proper soccer etiquette teaches you are not supposed to say that, even if it's true, especially if it is true. In the civilized soccer world when you catch a ref with his hand in your pocket you close en eye, swallow, turn the other cheek, and shake hands. In absolute self-defense Perez Lasa, who was not listed on the game sheet as the 12th Madrid player despite an unblemished record, showed brave Victor the yellow card. Then, when Valdes wouldn't stop, he produced a red one.
While an unidentified Barça official restrained the soon-to-be-suspended-for-many-games goalie, Perez Lasa excused himself that he didn't have cards in other colors. He also defended his honor by swearing that in 30 games he officiated for Real Madrid he never awarded the other team a penalty kick, while calling eight for the madridistas. I mean, what did Barça expect? How can a guy call a penalty against his convictions?
After all, even Ramos said after the game, when asked by the a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y impartial Madrid press if it was or it wasn't, "I'm not sure if there was contact, I need to see the replay." What more do you want? The guy was there and can't tell for sure. Plus, running from Iniesta & Co., the ref didn't even have the chance to watch a replay.
Another credible witness, Pepe, who has never been arrested for deeds committed on the field, said eloquently, "I didn't see the play, but it is normal that teams blame the referee when they lose."
Vladimir Moraru played soccer for 15 years and has watched it for 60. He hasn't seen a player like Messi and a team like FC Barcelona.
- Sports & Recreation
- FC Barcelona
- Real Madrid
- Victor Valdes
- Sergio Ramos