Sunday, in the Fairly Big Derby, Real Madrid suffered a 2-1 loss to their ancient rivals Barcelona. Following the game, the squad flew back to Madrid before teammates went their separate ways from the club’s Valdebebas training facility, though not before players were greeted by a small group of fans who had made the full transition of grief to anger.
As they exited in their cars, players were met at the facility’s gates by grown men lost in their sports emotions, who could find no better way to work through their feelings than to kick and punch the automobiles of the same players they sang for in adoration a week before.
A proud and noble battle, this. Man versus machine versus emotions. Timeless stuff. It’s like when your television doesn’t work and you punch it a few times to get a clearer picture, except in this case, the television is your favorite player’s Bentley, and it doesn’t actually solve your problem – the surface one of a lost game, not the deeper one that has you camping outside a training facility to confront players.
As with anything negative surrounding El Real, Gareth Bale (and his car) appeared to be the focal point of Madridista rage, though his ride was not the only met with aggressively misguided feet and fists. Sergio Ramos dutifully played the role of peace-keeper, stopping to offer valuable life lessons to aggrieved fans and possibly offer them the phone number of a local therapist or support group.
In the aftermath, an official statement was released by Real Madrid:
Following the incidents that occurred involving three individuals in the early hours of this morning outside Ciudad Real Madrid, Real Madrid C. F. wishes to outline the following:
1.- The Club has already identified the individuals responsible, one a Real Madrid member, for these aggressive and violent actions against several of our players.
2.- Details of this member’s identity have been sent to the Club’s Discipline Commission, requesting that it expel the individual from Real Madrid for what is considered a very serious offence.
3.- This afternoon, the Discipline Commission held an emergency meeting and decided to open a disciplinary investigation and provisionally suspend the individual’s rights as a member and access to the Santiago Bernabéu or any Real Madrid facilities.
4.- Real Madrid has notified Spain’s National Anti-Violence Commission of the incidents that took place, as well as the identities of the individuals responsible, requesting that it apply those sanctions that it considers appropriate.
5.- Furthermore, Real Madrid will take any applicable legal action against the individuals responsible for these incidents.
Today, the State Commission Against Violence, Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Sport (Spanish), which sounds like a delightful place to work, announced that the car-beaters had been identified and would be punished with fines and stadium bans (translated):
“Punishments of €3,001 are proposed, and six-month bans from all sporting facilities are proposed for the three individuals who shouted at and seriously insulted some Real Madrid players and coaches as they left the club’s training ground during the night of March 23.”
Real Madrid certainly is not in the same form it enjoyed earlier this season. Its La Liga lead has dissolved into a four-point gap behind the surging Barcelona. Still, eight league games remain, and Cristiano Ronaldo is bound to come back to life at some point. All hope is not lost at the Bernabéu.
Being a club that accepts nothing less than weekly perfection can cause all sorts of irrational fan behavior, but when you reach the point that you’re lurking in training facility bushes to accost people in moving cars, it may be time to step back for a few deep breaths.