Last weekend in La Liga, Cristiano Ronaldo saw red after catching Malaga defender Patrick Mtiliga with a flailing arm and breaking his opponent’s nose. Unhappy about the dismissal and the suspension which it carries, Los Blancos have since gone about trying to have the decision overruled, and they adopted an interesting tactical ploy in the process.
Aside from simply claiming Ronaldo’s innocence, Real chose to introduce footage of Lionel Messi caught in an almost identical situation against Sevilla from earlier in the season. Messi, arms flapping in his opponent’s face, only managed to avoid inflicting the same sort of damage on his opponent by luck rather than judgment. So, if Messi action’s were deemed legal, why should Ronaldo be treated any differently?
Barcelona midfielder Xavi attempted to try and answer the issue by saying “you have to assess the intention of each player. Leo wants to carry on playing and Cristiano wants to break free of the defender with a swipe of his arm.”
Yet that conclusion seems rather weak in face of the evidence which was presented.
A better explanation seems to be that referees are often, and unfortunately, inconsistent. But that in and of itself does not mean that Ronaldo’s actions did not warrant the punishment. Just because Messi got lucky, does not mean Ronaldo should be afforded the same de facto leniency.
The video footage of Messi vs Ronaldo can be seen here.