Because this is soccer, telling people to calm down is one of the most provocative of all gestures.
CALM DOWN? FUCK YOU, I’M NOT GOING TO CALM DOWN. THE REPEATED PALMS-DOWN THRUST OF YOUR HANDS TO SYMBOLIZE A DESIRE TO DE-ESCALATE A TENSE SITUATION HAS ONLY MADE THINGS WORSE. GAAAAH. HULK SMASH.
So it’s not surprising that La Liga boss Javier Tebas is threatening disciplinary action against Cristiano Ronaldo for doing the calm-down gesture at Barcelona fans after he scored the equalizing goal in El Clásico last Sunday. Both because it was an attempt to goad them, and because it was redundant, since most fans are quiet after their team’s just conceded.
Ronaldo should have come up with something more original and genuinely offensive to Barcelona fans, like pulling a Chelsea jersey with “Messi” from the back out of his sock.
As ESPN FC points out, in the wake of a Deportivo de La Coruña fan’s death last year, the Spanish authorities are mounting a crackdown on player celebrations in a bid to curb supporter rage. It may now be one of the toughest leagues to taunt in, along with the NFL, which had a crackdown on players miming showing their cracks.
Even “Cristiano is a drunk”, chanted by Barcelona fans after his birthday party, drew the attention of the league’s anti-violence committee. It’s going to be interesting to see the effects of this banter ban, given that European soccer’s DNA is made up of three essential ingredients: passion, beer and irrational hate.
But let’s not rush to judgment about Ronaldo’s wayward hands. He could have been indicating the number of press-ups he does each day to achieve such an admirable six-pack. It might have been a particularly lame attempt to emulate an orchestral conductor. Perhaps he was stroking an invisible horse. Or the gesture could have been directed at the press box, home of the least-calm people on the Iberian peninsula: Spanish soccer reporters.