Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ronaldo's handball

There's not an awful lot to say about Ronaldo winning the Ballon D'Or today, but after reading all the articles about his quite incredible sending off in the derby game this weekend, I have to sneak a word in edgewise.

It's worth stepping back to the first yellow card he received. The tackle, even in the eyes of the commentators on my TV feed, did not warrant a card, and it was quite a surprise when Howard Webb flashed the yellow. That said, when Ronaldo responded by saracastically applauding, I fully expected him to be sent off there and then, and was quite relieved when it didn't happen.

He does cop a lot on the field, and is often not protected by the referees, but to be fair, City did not set out to nobble him, unlike some other teams, and in this case, although he received a poor yellow, he risked it all by reacting.

Still, the game went on, and then came the comical incident pictured above. There's no question that he used his hands, and nobody, least of all Ronaldo, is disputing that. What he claims is that he heard a shout, and a whistle, and so he used his hands and was intending to stop the game. For this, he has been roundly pilloried, but let's pause to think rationally for a moment. Forget about your hatred for all things Ronaldo (for those of you who are not United fans) for a minute.

Consider for a second that we have here one of, if not the, most accomplished headers of a ball in a penalty box. Remember his header against Roma last year, or even his header against Chelsea in the Champions League final. Not a man who is queasy in the air. Now look at the picture above. He has risen higher than all and sundry, and has a clear opportunity to head the ball goalwards. It's what he does best. Now whatever you may think of him, it is ridiculous to suggest, as most observers have done, that he did this for no reason. It's pretty obvious that under normal circumstances, Ronaldo would have got head to ball, and aimed for goal. Once again, that's what he does. Something prompted him to do otherwise. I'm inclined to believe that he did think he heard a whistle.

Unfortunately, there was no whistle. I can't and don't blame the referee for producing a second yellow card. It's the rest of us - the media and the fans - who need to retain some perspective here and think about what we're saying when we analyze the situation. Sure, there's nothing more fun than pulling the big guy down. But in this particular instance, all it does is make those of you doing it look very foolish indeed. At least, it would, if anyone else were thinking rationally.

No comments: