Sergio Busquets has been cleared to play Manchester United at Wembley on May 28 after UEFA have dismissed Real Madrid’s claim that Busquets called Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo a mono (monkey). The video used against Busquets suggests that the player probably did use this word though the evidence is certainly not conclusive. Busquets has reportedly said that he actually said mucho morro (you’ve got a nerve) to Marcelo, which may be possible but it sounds pretty lame.
I’ve read a couple of journalists in the Catalan press use the argument that what goes on in the field of play should stay there, and that Real Madrid are well out of order for bringing this up. I’ll talk more on Real Madrid’s role in all this later, but first I should say that while the use of video evidence and possible punishments against players should be kept to a minimum, there are some cases where it is totally justified.
We all know that some players will try to wind up their opponents and this is an accepted part of the game, but I do think there have to be some limits. I don’t know what was said to Zinedine Zidane to provoke him into losing his head in a World Cup Final. We probably would all have different ideas about what might be insulting and it is thus difficult to say what should be off limits. However, it would not be a bad thing to begin with racism, and if a player is clearly shown to insult a player racially then he should be punished, even if that means missing the Champions League Final.
I would like to be able to defend Busquets in the way that the club, Guardiola and team mates have defended him, but I am left with the uncomfortable feeling that he did say what he is accused of. However, I cannot be sure and the evidence was not totally clear so I cannot condemn him either. I understand that Guardiola must defend his player, especially when it has not been proved. I hope that there are some words said behind closed doors to make sure this never happens again, and for now I will try to give Busquets the benefit of the doubt. And if Busquets, behind closed doors, continues to insist he said nothing racist then in the end you have to try to believe him. It is probably a good moment for the club to insist to all players at all levels of the club that any such behavior will not be tolerated.
The way that this all came about is also worthy of comment. As I came home after our 0-2 win at the Bernabeu all I could think of was Leo Messi’s amazing run through Madrid’s defence for the second goal. Then at home I heard José Mourinho’s paranoid rant at the post-match press conference which had journalist John Carlin comparing Mourinho to Shakespeare’s King Lear as he struggled to comprehend life’s injustices. Mourinho went too far when he implied that Barça received preferential treatment from referees because of our Unicef publicity and Barça were quite right to object. Madrid then responded in a tit-for-tat manner worthy of an immature child. A pathetic case of you-told-on-me-so-I’m-telling on you.
Both clubs came out of the four clasicos with a somewhat tarnished image. On the 28th of May at Wembley we have the chance to show the world a better image of our club.