Sergio Ramos says don't hate the player for gaming the game
Sergio Ramos shows no shame in playing the villain but when UEFA is done, he may wish he’d been more discreet about it. The Real Madrid and Spain captain’s admission he intentionally drew a yellow card sparked an investigation from Europe’s governing football body. If charged and found guilty, the defender could miss the Champions League quarterfinals.
Ramos intentionally fouled a player in order to enter the next round without the threat of a suspension hanging over him. Playing with a clean slate, the centre-half needn’t hesitate when making tackles or trying to win 50-50 balls. Players are known to do this if they face a ban for accumulated cards and their team has a clear advantage going into the second leg of the current tie. While his team has the advantage, he can afford to sit out whereas a card in a closer affair could cost his side dearly.
For their part, UEFA doesn’t like the notion of players openly attempting to circumvent rules designed to ensure fair and safe play. It’s one thing to intentionally draw a card and accepting the suspension in silence. It’s another to tell the world you’ve put one over on UEFA. No one likes to be made a fool.
The disciplinary committee will be more than happy to make an example of a prominent player who has been accused of doing this in the past. In 2010, both Ramos and Xabi Alonso intentionally took cards for delaying the game to clear their accounts before advancing to the next round.
Real Madrid’s form has been in ascendance since the New Year with Ramos’ improved play a significant reason. Losing their captain in the quarterfinal round severely hinders the Merengues’ chances to win the tournament for the fourth time running. His partner in defence, Raphael Varane has battled injury and poor form himself this campaign. Manager Santiago Solari has no decent options in reserve if Ramos misses the next round. His squad is much deeper at fullback. Nacho has moved inside of late when the boss needs to rest either Varane or Ramos.
Intentional bookings usually occur in league play. When key players are on four yellow cards with an important match two or three games away, players will be advised by managers to get their suspension out of the way before the critical game. With the Champions League the preeminent competition in Europe, UEFA likes to think it holds players to a higher standard. Having a marquee name flaunt his deception in their face doesn’t sit well.
Worse for Ramos, video is always available for Real Madrid matches. Media outlets are already circulating footage in which the defender appears to signal the bench, asking whether he should attempt to get booked.
The club’s detractors often accuse Los Blancos of arrogance. Certainly, discretion would have been advisable in this instance. The time to brag about getting one over on UEFA is after you’ve retired, not while you’re still in the thick of the competition.