Cristiano Ronaldo’s lax punishment shows the value Spain puts on politeness

Slapping your own cheek: three-game ban. Punching, slapping, taunting and kicking other people: two-game ban.

Last February, Cristiano Ronaldo was sidelined for three games after being red-carded in a game against Atletico Bilbao (one match) then disrespecting an assistant referee with his face-smacking antics as he headed to the tunnel (two matches).

Now the Real Madrid player has been banned by Spanish authorities for two games for turning Real v Cordoba into his own personal Jason Statham movie, kicking out at Edimar when the ball was nowhere near. Plus, as he trudged off the field he mocked rival fans by gesturing at the “world club champions” crest on his jersey (helpfully reminding us all that such a tournament actually exists).

Conclusion: in Spain they’re big on politeness – remember Sergio Ramos’s additional four-match punishment for insulting officials? – but evidently more chilled about violence.

As the Spanish children’s rhyme goes: “Sticks and stones may break my bones/ But names are really really bad and must be extensively punished by soccer’s governing body”.

Despite conclusive video evidence, it appears that Ronaldo has escaped a heavier punishment because the officials at the game had lost a contact lens, or had the sun in their eyes, or were tying their shoelaces, and so didn’t mention the full extent of the violence in their report.

As luck would have it, the decision to give the world’s best player a mere two-match ban now means he’ll be back for the Madrid derby against Atletico. Imagine that.

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