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Suárez insulted the referee and deserved a red card


When we don't respect ourselves we can't expect players to respect us. I'm talking about the gesture Barcelona player Luis Suárez made to referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz in the 1-1 draw between Barça and Real Madrid, raising his hand to his cheek repeatedly, with the well known significance in Spanish-speaking countries of "caradura" meaning something along the lines of "What a fucking cheek you've got" or "You shameless bastard". Mateu only booked Suárez for his actions.

The laws of the game

Let's read the laws of the game before offering opinions: "A player who is guilty of using offensive, insulting or abusive language or gestures must be sent off". That is set against: "A player who is guilty of dissent by protesting (verbally or nonverbally) against a referee's decision must be cautioned".

Why is there difference between Mudo Vázquez being sent off for verbally calling the referee a "caradura" in the tunnel and Suárez calling, by way of gestures, a referee a "caradura" on the pitch, with the additional aggravating factor that it's public and clearly seen by millions of spectators around the world. The difference doesn't make sense: you call me a shameless bastard verbally and that's a red card, but you call me a shameless bastard by way of gestures and that's a booking.

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Angel MartinezGetty Images

It's a disservice to football (and above all to grassroots football) if elite referees tolerate this kind of behaviour letting it pass for simply inconsiderate.

Both FIFA and UEFA have been constant promoters of RESPECT. But if the highest level of authority on the pitch, the person there to ensure the rules of the game are applied, allows and accepts that they can be insulted with gestures, there's no doubt the respect towards the referee will be ever diminishing. And that's in professional football... think about what it means at the lower levels.

I see referees in professional football finding it harder and harder to take unpopular decisions. It's a battle that's already lost.

So I leave it up to you to think about it. You already know. Insulting (red) or inconsiderate (yellow). And don't forget UEFA's RESPECT campaigns, although of course maybe they don't cover referees...


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