Red card debate

Nose-breaker Ronaldo disputes dismissal

January 25, 2010
By Soccernet staff

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed the red card he received in his side's 2-0 La Liga win over Malaga was a "disgrace" despite breaking Patrick Mtiliga's nose with a swinging arm.

Cristiano Ronaldo (R), Patrick Mtiliga
GettyImagesCristiano Ronaldo breaks Patrick Mtiliga's nose

• Real Madrid 2-0 Malaga
• La Liga wrap

Ronaldo, who scored both goals before his 70th-minute dismissal, apologised to Mtiliga after the match but his initial on-field protest at the decision has angered Malaga officials.

Meanwhile, Madrid director general Jorge Valdano said referees should give Ronaldo preferential treatment because he is an "entertainer" who just "wants to play".

The injury came as Ronaldo threw an accidental arm into Mtiliga's face as he was trying to break free from the Danish defender's clutches.

"People who understand football know that my intention is always to try and play," Ronaldo said. "The red card is a disgrace. I don't understand it. I learned in England not to deceive the referees. This is not a red card here or in anywhere in the world and I'm not asking for protection. I've seen worse things in other games.

"I didn't mean to injure the lad. It was bad luck to hit him on the nose because he's only 1.70m and if he had been taller I would have struck his chest. I always want to play and these things make me angry. I've spoken with Mtiliga and he told me that I didn't need to apologise because he doesn't believe I hurt him intentionally.

"I wouldn't want to injure anybody. I'm not that type of person. I'm not a bad person. I only want to shine by playing football. Now I'm going to be angry when I get home because I won't be able to play through suspension."

Malaga coach Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz said Mtiliga would be out of action for around three weeks. The Andalusian club's president Fernando Sanz was critical of Ronaldo's attitude when he was interviewed immediately after the game.

"I don't suppose Ronaldo meant to do it but he swung his arm back once and the second time he did it he broke the player's nose," Sanz told Canal Plus television. "It was a brutal impact and a clear sending-off offence. What he should have done is left the field apologising to his opponent rather than throwing his arms in the air and protesting."

Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini said he was unable to see the incident clearly but Valdano rushed to his player's defence.

"The referee has to understand which players want to entertain and those who want to break up the spectacle," he said. "Cristiano wants to play. When a player grabs him from behind he tries to break away from them. Others throw themselves to the ground to simulate a foul.

"More than Ronaldo's need to adapt to the Spanish league the referees need to adapt to protect players who want to entertain. I don't want to judge referees decisions, simply to state that Ronaldo's intentions are always noble."

It was Ronaldo's second red card for Real Madrid after being sent off in a league match against Almeria last month.