On Cristiano Ronaldo, Intentional Booking & Fair Play

Three things Cristiano Ronaldo did wrong in the Portugal draw with Israell: He had a terrible match, hardly being a threat at goal; he tried to kick an Israeli player in the head, lucky not to be sent off; and he managed to get booked on purpose in order to miss the match against Luxembourg, so he’ll be available with a clean slate for the two playoff matches.

There’s nothing illegal about getting booked on purpose as long as you don’t admit that you tried to trick the system. Ronaldo’s manager, Jose Mourinho, landed himself in some trouble over the years, especially at Real Madrid, by ordering his players to pick up bookings or red cards in order to miss matches that had no real importance to the team. No one has mentioned or showed a video of Ronaldo getting orders from Paulo Bento to get himself a yellow, but it’s quite clear that something of that nature was discussed between the two.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo was lucky not to get sent off in the 13th minute of the match which might have resulted in a much longer suspension than just one match, after trying to kick Eran Zehavi, and Israeli player, for no justifiable reason. He was booked by Tom Harald Hagen as the match entered injury time, and it was clear Portugal’s chances of catching up with Russia for first place in the group were almost over, and there’s not too much hope that changes on the final day of qualifiers.

FIFA, UEFA and any over governing body wouldn’t like to see something like this happen. But they don’t like being made out to look like their system enables intentional wrong doing, even though Ronaldo doesn’t hurt anyone – he simply prevents himself, on purpose, from playing in a match, which is a problem on its own.

There’s always the option of simply not putting him in the lineup and avoiding that problem altogether, but managers prefer having their player suspended to avoid any chance or need to use them. Ronaldo himself isn’t talking about the matter, knowing that remaining silent about the matter is the best course of action, even though it’s not the greatest example of perfect fair play.

Players and teams, at the end of the day, prefer winning and success than a clean and perfect public image. Missing a match against Luxembourg is more beneficial for Portugal and Ronaldo, even if it means getting booked on purpose.