Last Sunday with only moments left in the match between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, Barcelona MVP Lionel Messi was taken down on a hard challenge from unknown Atletico defender Tomas Ujfalusi. Ulfalusi was red carded for stepping on the leading scorers ankle and Messi is expected to miss at least two weeks of action due to ligament damage in his right ankle.
And today it was announced that Ulfalusi will miss only two games because of the play. The defender could have potentially missed up to an entire month of action, but his original suspension of one match was only doubled despite the severity of the tackle. So while Messi will hopefully be back in October, it appears Ulfalusi will miss matches against Valencia and Zaragoza and be available to play next week.
And like all debates there are two sides to the one regarding Messi’s injury.
On one hand you have the debate of does Ulfalusi deserve more of a punishment then the one that was handed out? Did the defender target Messi because of his star power? And should he be punished even longer considering he injured a star player intentionally and will likely return before that player can?
Or as ESPN’s Graham Hunter puts it….
For being the world’s most-gifted player, Lionel Messi is hacked down by less-talented hatchet men who act out of frustration and malice.
And on the other hand (in case Hunter is a bit too intense for you), you have the scenario of a superstar demanding favoritism to the league. Should players receive more severe punishments just because the fouled a star? Or should athletes only be suspended for the play that transpired regardless of who was fouled?
Or as Ronaldo and every other athlete puts it… The I deserve special treatment debate.
But Here’s My Take.
Every sport has this type of thing. In the NFL defensive players are always complaining of the strict rules regarding where you can hit a quarterback in order to sack him and in the NBA certain players have been granted the benefit of the doubt when driving the lane and colliding with a stationary defender as well. Star athletes will get special treatment and they deserve it. In this case though, I think that the crime was actually much worse than the punishment received. Ujfalusi deserves to remain out of matches for at least as long as Messi will and he shouldn’t be allowed back until Messi is active and ready to go.