Controversy in Barcelona over Deco, Eto'o suspensions
The two footballers are accused of deliberately earning yellow cards in order to avoid applauding Real out onto the field.5 May 2008
MADRID - After thrashing Valencia 6-0 on Sunday, one would imagine that Barcelona would be able to enjoy a brief respite from all the frustration, bitterness and acrimony that has plagued them this season.
But this is not the case at all.
Instead of a temporary peace and tranquillity, there is controversy anew, this time regarding the yellow cards picked up on Sunday by Deco and Samuel Eto'o.
These are the fifth yellow cards for both players, which means that they will miss Wednesday's high-profile game away to champions Real Madrid with an automatic one-match suspension.
Deco and Eto'o claimed after the 6-0 thrashing of Valencia that they did not know that they were on the verge of suspension.
Deco claimed that he did not realise that it was his fifth yellow card "until I was told in the dressing-room."
Eto'o, for his part, told the media that "I am really angry about this, but I will try to cheer on my companions from home."
Embattled coach Frank Rijkaard, however, was quick to point out that both players had been told before the Valencia game that they were just one card away from a ban.
Catalan daily Sport claims on Monday that they have deliberately earned the cards in order to avoid applauding Real out onto the field.
The tradition in Spain is that the newly-crowned champions are applauded onto the field by their next opponents.
On Sunday, of course, Real clinched their 31st Liga title in dramatic fashion, coming from behind to score a last-gasp 2-1 away to lowly Osasuna.
On Wednesday, Barca are away to Real, and therefore must do the honours and applaud Raul Gonzalez and company out onto the Bernabeu pitch.
Sports claims that Deco and Eto'o deliberately picked up "absurd cards" in off-the-ball incidents, in order to avoid have to be part of this embarrassing situation.
Madrid paper Marca, meanwhile, says on Monday that the pair have "eliminated themselves" from what promises to be an uncomfortable night for Barca.
The Catalans are a disappointing third in La Liga, no less than 14 points behind Real, and four points behind second-placed Villarreal.
The Deco-Eto'o controversy is just the latest episode of confusion and possible indiscipline at the Camp Nou.
In April, Xavier Sala Martin, president of the club's economic commission, suggested angrily that certain Barca players have been feigning injury in order to miss difficult matches.
It was understood that he was referring to Deco and Ronaldinho, who will miss Wednesday's "clasico" with yet another mysterious injury.
Also missing for Barca will be Albert Jorquera, Oleguer Presas, Yaya Toure, Gabriel Milito and Andres Iniesta.
[dpa / Expatica]