28 April 2011
Much has been said and written concerning Pepe’s send-off against Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal, but an image speaks louder than words and video from Realmadrid TV clearly shows the player only touched the ball. Thirty minutes remained in the match and the referee sent Pepe off with a direct red card following a lose ball dispute between Alves and Pepe. The rest of the play has been publically scrutinized far and wide. Alves, who obviously appears to be in pain, abandons the pitch on a stretcher. After consulting with one of his assistants, German referee Wolfgang Stark shows Pepe the red card one minute after the play took place. Once he saw the decision made by the referee, Alves made his way back onto the pitch in full stride.
It wasn’t the only controversial play of the match, however. Arbeloa and Pedro were involved in another incident. Thirty-nine minutes into the first half, the Madridista defender blocked Barcelona forward’s running lane. There was shoulder-to-shoulder contact, but no aggressive intent. Pedro fell to the turf and clutched his face, and the entire Barcelona bench stood up to continue protesting for the foul.
An ugly gesture that appears to have become a constant. Look no further than the images of the incident between Marcelo and Busquets five minute earlier; another lose ball and again, the Barcelona player ends up on the turf. It wasn’t Alves this time, but Busquets. The dive is just as obvious as Marcelo’s expression of surprise. Marcelo protects the ball with his body and Busquets goes over the Madridista defender's back and blatantly falls to the floor with his hands over his face. Another unsportsmanlike gesture and more fuel to the fire for the referee to deal with. It lasted for 90 minutes as millions around the world watched on the small screen.
The sports world cries out
Rio Ferdinand: "This diving is a joke/embarrassing. When Pedro watches that do you think he'll think, "What was I doing!?" Rugby players must laugh at football. If you ever see me go off on a stretcher then run back on to play, I give everyone on here the green light to him me with a two-footed tackle."
Michael Owen: "Alves' actions won't please many as if he had got straight up it would have been a yellow card, but Barça fans will be happy with his actions."
Rory Mcilroy: "Dani Alves, you are a disgrace. Roll about on the floor just a bit more!"
Chad Ochocinco: "I can't believe they just gave Pepe a red card for that."