Uefa have initiated disciplinary cased against both Real Madrid and Barcelona in the aftermath of their
diving contest Champions League semi-final clash on Wednesday.
UEFA’s case against Real Madrid:
The throwing of missiles, a pitch invasion, the red card shown to Pepe, the dismissal of coach José Mourinho, as well as the inappropriate statement given by Mr Mourinho to the media after the match.
UEFA’s case against Barcelona:
The red card shown to reserve goalkeeper José Pinto in a melee as the teams returned to their dressing rooms at half-time.
Both cases will be heard by the Uefa Control and Disciplinary Body on 6 May.
While this was expected – you don’t get away with claiming that UEFA are pulling strings to get Barcelona into the final or insinuate that Barcelona win because of refereeing decisions without getting UEFA involved – there are two major problems with this that UEFA are pointedly ignoring:
1. The Diving
From Sergio and Pedro, both of whom deserved to go into the book after their shenanigans.
From Dani Alves, who pretended that his foot was broken before hopping off the stretcher on the sidelines and jogging back into the game.
All three are very good players, Dani being invariably the best of the trio, but something had to be done last night to stop the diving, and the ref didn’t do anything. And since UEFA is happy to act on simulation in limited instances when they become major media issues (Eduardo) but not when they’re secondary issues, this will keep on happening.
2. The Kicking
Diarra, and Pepe, needed to be cautioned much earlier in the game for their rough challenges. Madrid’s tactics were negative, yes, perhaps even more negative than Inter at San Siro in last year’s semifinal, but the referee could have done something on both ends by clamping down on the fouls and the diving.
3. The timing of the review
It’s a shame that the incidents will not be reviewed before the second leg. Particularly in four cases where there needs to be immediate action.
Pinto grossly over-reacted, so a straight red card is fair. If you look at the replays, especially Arbeloa’s reactions during the pushing and shoving, he’s not even concerned at what’s going on around him, he just wants to get back to the dressing room. If you go up to someone to complain, and he doesn’t dignify your whining with a reply, you’re not ‘entitled’ to throw a punch at him, regardless of how many titles you’ve won sitting on the bench.
For what it’s worth, Mourinho is right to complain about the Pepe decision, just as Chelsea were right to complain about the penalty decisions not going their way at Stamford Bridge, but there’s a way to do it, and Mourinho’s rants were no better than Drogba / Ballack. Regardless of whether the referee is right or wrong (and he was wrong), players and managers invite censure if their actions directly bring the game into disrepute (although enforcement of this rule is so inconsistent that it drives this blogger into a mouth-foaming rant).
At the end of the day, UEFA had a chance here to draw the line and tell players that no diving would be tolerated. They had a chance to tell both sides – BEFORE the second leg – that similar conduct would not be tolerated. By ignoring to review certain issues (diving from both sides) and by timing the review after the second leg (when it would have made a strong statement to improve conduct for the second leg), they’ve missed a big chance to improve the situation, although they’ve done their bit to cover their arses.