LaLiga: Pique's comments cause another fallout, VAR delight for Spain and Messi-gate

Let’s ignore Spain and focus on the same two teams

It wouldn’t be an international break in Spain without someone making the entire thing descend into another tit-for-tat war of words between Barcelona and Real Madrid. This constant need to portray their side as the victim becomes tiring and boring, more so because it’s complete and utter bol– tosh. Gerard Pique was the mischief instigator this time around, as he so often is, but this time it felt completely needless.

I’ve written in the past on how we shouldn’t try to silence characters like Pique who are refreshingly honest and open in their opinions, not the typical media-trained drone who says a lot while at the same time saying absolutely nothing. Yet last night didn’t feel like the right place to re-open the debate about whether added technology would benefit his team or that of his rivals.

 

“What I don’t like about Madrid is the people who sit in the box and how they pull the strings in this country.” He was referring to what he felt was unfair treatment in regards the tax issues Lionel Messi faced and Neymar continues to battle. “The person who accused Messi and Neymar [of wrong-doing] treated Cristiano [Ronaldo] differently and is seen in the box alongside Florentino [Perez].”

The reality being that most of his words weren’t even that bad as Sergio Ramos, his alleged enemy, seemingly agreed with him. “In every director’s box they pull some strings [to their advantage] but if we balance it out then they have more to be quiet about than us.”

Let’s not ignore the people who wanted these statements, these headlines: the ones asking the questions. Instead of focusing on what was an impressive victory over a highly regarded France side they decided to touch upon the topic of Raul and the possibility he could land a job at Barcelona. Once Pique reacted that way the questions levelled at him were designed to get more talking points for their radio shows.

Topics included whether Barcelona were unfairly treated by referees, Ramos and Marcelo’s comments about the Catalan’s comeback against PSG and other bits and pieces. Later the same publications will throw Pique under a bus for answering their stupid questions. This is exactly what they wanted to happen. Ramos was smart in not entering into the game, although made one or two quips himself to defend his club. The real winners were the radio shows who got the numbers they wanted, regardless of whether the fans of the other 18 teams in LaLiga give a damn.

VAR technology isn’t flawless but the signs are positive

There’s an eternal debate amongst the football community as to whether adding more technology, more help for referees, could in turn ruin the beautiful game we all know and love. Would it ruin it more than rich owners who give their newly acquired toy an insurmountable financial advantage, or those who leave when the going gets tough or who use their club to transfer players and line their own pockets while the fans have next to no say?

VAR technology is of course far worse than overpriced ticket prices forcing families to give up their season tickets due to the rising costs of watching a sport which is apparently open to all. Technology? That’s disgusting but clubs releasing three or four new kits per season to milk their fan base is part and parcel of the modern game, eh?

The main concern appears to be that it’d eradicate the debate, analysis and talking points of a football match. I’d rather time was spent on explaining how a team got it right or wrong than 20 minutes talking about a referee or linesman’s error which influenced the game. The pub debate argument only works if the decision benefits your team. Are these pundits unable to talk about the tactical nous of a coach, their switch in formation to combat an issue within a few minutes or how a substitute changed a game?

Oh, sorry, that’s right. We need topics that we can shout about as loud as possible and the real winner is whoever doesn’t let the other person speak to make a counter point. Maybe, as with technology, some of these pundits might have to do a bit more homework and improve themselves as opposed to talking about controversial topics just so everyone will read their column in the newspaper that week.

The video referee got two huge decisions right in the France vs Spain game. France thought they’d scored but it correctly ruled out for offside. It took about 30 seconds to overturn the decision and the game was resumed at 0-0. Later on the impressive Gerard Deulofeu was flagged offside despite him putting the ball in the back of the net. The video ref took a little longer, around 40 seconds this time, but again got it right as he overruled the lineman and the goal stood.

Call me an emotionless drone if you want but I’d rather see right decisions in every game than wrong ones. No one wants to see more hashtags on Twitter about how there’s a campaign against their side. Speaking of campaigns…

#CampaignAgainstMessi?

The other major story doing the rounds following the international break is the four-match suspension handed to Messi for using abusive language towards one of the officials. This was seen as excessive by some and in the Catalan press they even invented a ludicrous rumour that it was FIFA’s way of punishing the Argentine for not attending their ‘The Best’ gala. Beyond parody, isn’t it?

It did seem harsh on the surface but then it emerged Chilean pair Gary Medel and Jorge Valdivia had previously been found guilty of using abusive language towards officials and also received four-match bans.

The issue isn’t the punishment, as I feel it’s right that we attempt to remove abuse from the game, but the consistency. If this becomes the norm and every player we see act aggressively towards an official is subsequently punished then it’s great. However should someone be seen using offensive language and escape punishment, the can of worms will reopen.

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