Tomas Ujfalusi can go to hell. And I’m saying this from a number of viewpoints: Barca fan and cule, sports fan, person who is against violence, human being who is averse to having to don hip waders to get through waist-high mounds of steaming bovine fecal matter.
Ujfalusi says that he isn’t a bad guy. The president of Atletico says that he isn’t that kind of a guy. Ujfalusi is saying that he tried to apologize in person to Messi, and sent him a text, and that he didn’t mean Messi any harm, blahblahblahblah. Fabio Capello is saying that he isn’t a bad guy, blahblahblahblah.
But you know what? Anybody is a bad guy with the red mist in their eyes. It was the 92nd minute of a 94-minute match that your team wasn’t going to win. Why go in so hard, and why aim at the ankle? If you want to merely send a message of pique, you can go in shoulder-to-shoulder, or just body-block the player. You stop the play, send him to the turf, then you can run over to the ref and have your tantrum.
Instead, you went in and down on the ankle. So all of your protests, Mr. Ujfalusi, are to me worth just about the crap that envelops them.
Pundits and fans are saying that Barca fans are being silly, that any time a player comes at Messi with a “right proper English-style tackle,” we howl to the high heavens. Ask ex-Arsenal man Eduardo about those “right proper English-style tackles.” For my money, it was an attempt to injure, to damage the club and I love and its chances at the Liga. If Messi’s out, it can only benefit Atletico long-term, right?
Just once, I wish that players weren’t hypocrites. I recall, years ago, a tennis match during which Vitas Gerulaitis rushed the net off a weak-ass approach shot. Ivan Lendl lined up his shot, and hit him in the head with it. When asked about it, after the match Lendl said “Nobody asked him to come to the net on that shot,” and offered no apology. The apology from Ujfalusi is a craven attempt to ameliorate public scorn, and possibly diminish his penalty. The truth is in the action. If you didn’t mean it, you go over and check on the player. You don’t hammer him, then run over to the ref to yell about a penalty that you think you should have gotten. He never even looked at Messi, who was clearly injured.
Now people are asking was the tackle really that bad. Anybody who would ask that, hasn’t watched the video, or is just trying to draw clicks by talking out of their ass. Applying that much force directly down, so that you use the pitch to augment your effort to maim, means that intent is clear: You want to make sure that player can’t continue in the match. In that, Ujfalusi succeeded.
Speculation is that his suspension will be from 4-12 matches. It should be the maximum, but it almost certainly won’t be. Michael Jordan got the same protection. So did Wayne Gretzky. Those guys filled the seats. So does Messi, and Thong Boy, and Aguero, and all the other Liga marquee players. They should be protected from violent action. Nobody minds a foul, a good, hard, professional foul. You shoulder the guy off the ball, or grab the shirt to prevent forward progress. It sucks, but it’s part of football.
Yes, there have been worse tackles. That doesn’t diminish the violence of this one. It just means that the roster of thuggish assholes has grown by one. A message needs to be sent to Ujfalusi, and anyone else who believes that the best way to stop a team is to injure its star player. 12 games off for Ujfalusi would be a good start.