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Dembélé's controversial sanction


AS editor Alfredo Relaño gives his take on the events that led to Barcelona's Ousmane Dembélé being sent off against Sevilla on Sunday.

Children copy their elders. And so Dembélé followed Barcelona's ringleaders towards the referee Mateu Lahoz and launched the “you’re very bad” gibe that got him sent off.

Mateu found handing him the red card was the perfect escape from the situation, surrounded by incensed Barça players after his expulsion of Ronald Araujo moments earlier. Young Dembélé still doesn't know the essentials: it's about squeezing the referee to pretend victimhood, but that is in itself an art form that he has yet to learn.

Yes, maybe Mateu could have let the comment go, as so many refs have done so many times with so many other players. But it just so happens that there has been talk amongst referees for a long time that Barcelona have too many ringleaders. 

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With Piqué, Busquets and Alba at the helm, heroes of La Roja, plus the imposing figures of Suárez and Messi, as well as others, referess feel they have for too long been overwhelmed. Mateu wanted to send a message to the stands and those watching on television: that he was standing up to the persecution.

That he was ready to take a stance had already been seen in the first half, when he warned Luis Suarez with a Clint Eastwood-like stare: "Make no mistake." He had remained content, reserved and polite, as is demanded by his trade, until poor Dembélé caught him at the wrong time in a heated moment and was made an example of.

And the Committee has now decided that he will miss the next two games for his troubles, the second of which is the all-important Clásico.