After Messi's last gasp goal in El Clásico, his manager Luis Enrique called the player's celebration "bonita". I agree: I thought it was lovely too...in principle anyway. I believed he was showing his shirt to what I had imagined was a small group of Catalans, seated in the upper part of that corner of the stand. But it turns out that this was not so. Images recorded by Madrid club members in that area showed something very different: in the team's revelry with some players (Jordi Alba and Umtiti) standing out with their defiant gestures towards the Real Madrid supporters in that area. Messi's shirt display was also addressed to that crowd, a climax to the provocation.
Messi celebration rather ugly
Something similar took place in the Mestalla and, at least, on this occasion we were lucky that nobody threw anything. That spared us. What I wonder though is what need there is to do that; whether these two acts of provocation were borne out of spontaneity, or if they came from a preconceived intention. In either case, there was no postmortem with any criticism from the coach, nor from the club. There was none after Valencia, and there has been none after Madrid. But to me, seeing what I saw later, the act does not seem so lovely, but actually rather ugly. Uglier even than that finger in Raul's mouth at the Camp Nou, which I criticised at the time, disturbing and unnecessary.
Risking a road to barbarism
Of course, there are always worse things. What Al-Thani said about the 'scum of Catalonia' is intolerable. He was apparently responding to accusations I don't know about launched by Barcelona against Michel, declaring him a Madridista. The tone used so disproportionate, the word used so unpleasant, and it cannot be ignored without sanctions. We live in a time of great football, but when things like this happen we run the risk of hurtling dpwn a road of barbarism. There is no precedent that I can remember for what Al-Thani said, even after so many years listening to the nonsense of those who try to distinguish themselves by their verbal incontinence, and whose names I'd rather forget. This time Al-Thani has gone too far.