The news that Cristiano Ronaldo has been banned for five games has caused a lot of irritation among all the Real Madrid fans I have spoken to. And not without reason: he was the victim of a poor referee, who saw a dive where there wasn’t one and pulled out a second yellow card. After being sent off, Cristiano gave match official Ricardo de Burgos a little shove in the back, almost imperceptible, but as it was included in the referee’s report LaLiga’s disciplinary committee has no choice but to ban Ronaldo for the minimum length of time laid out in the rules: four games, plus one for the sending off. The punishment for pushing a referee ranges from four to 12 games and as the offence was considered not serious Ronaldo was handed the lightest sanction.
Madrid will, I imagine, manage to reduce it to four by having the second yellow card rescinded as there was no dive on Ronaldo’s part. Only De Burgos saw an attempt to deceive the match officials. The dive was committed by Luis Suárez, who is becoming something of a specialist in that department. It was a Suárez dive that kick-started the comeback against PSG. That more play acting from Suárez resulted in a penalty in the same game when Ronaldo falling over resulted in a sending off only serves to fuel that irritation. And it is worth remembering that Leo Messi shoved a referee, Undiano Mallenco, during the famous 2-6 Clásico at the Bernabéu in 2009. Undiano did not mention it in his match report and Messi went unpunished.
It is unjust, but I do not see a way around it. There is one thing that could have spared Ronaldo this ban. Without the arrogant silliness of removing his shirt after he had scored the second yellow would have been a first, and if he had not been sent off he would not have pushed the referee. If Ronaldo had not felt the need to show off, we wouldn’t be where we now are. And furthermore, however much he had reason to, when he was protesting against his second yellow card he should not have laid hands on the match official. He is a professional and over 30 years of age. He is not a kid, and by now he should know what you can and can’t do. The incompetence of a poor referee and Ronaldo’s nature have come together with disastrous consequences.