Messi praise is almost obliged...
Many people have been surprised that Quique Flores excused himself for his demonstrative behaviour towards Lionel Messi following Espanyol’s 4-1 defeat to Barça on Sunday. To me such behaviour seems natural, and even obliged. Quique not only embraced Messi, but also Luis Suarez, Mascherano and Iniesta. Then, in the press room, he made us all privy to the devotion that one of his kids holds for Messi, for whom he collected Messi’s match shirt. All this corresponded with a match in which, after a few years of grudgingly-accepted prudence, the worst forms of Barça's radicals reappeared with repeated insults thrown at Espanyol in a very happy and loutish chorus.
...but Flores apology was the right thing to do
Quique Flores did the right thing in saying sorry. To those who are surprised by this attitude, I propose this scenario: Barça lose 4-1 at the Bernabeu and Luis Enrique, in the end, congratulates, even hugs, Cristiano Ronaldo and other Real Madrid players. Would that be accepted? And vice versa: if Madrid were the team on the end of the thrashing, to Barça or Atleti, how would such a show from Zidane ever be received? Quique Flores excused himself by saying that he did not fully know the history of a long-established club. But it is not exactly difficult to understand the repudiation that Espanyol fans produce after any defeat to Barça, and even more so after being on the receiving end of a chorus of abuse from their ultras.
Espanyol fans' hurt nothing to be shocked about
I saw the live images. It seemed to me that Quique Flores was overacting, whether through an eager show of sportsmanship (‘Look everybody, I know how to lose!’) or the unconscious solicitation to Luis Enrique, who did not want to take a photo with him before the derby. Whatever it was, it offended the Espanyol fans, already hurt by the 4-1 loss. That’s nothing to be shocked about. In a modern game of such high mobility, one in which stadium attendances count for less and less (ticket sales are now worth just 20% of income to clubs) it will be more and more inevitable that those living in the micro world of football are inconsiderate towards those who believe themselves custodians of a collective feeling.