T-shirt fine criticised across Spain

Before Saturday not many people in the world had heard of Jonathan Mejia. In fact, not many in Spain had heard of him either. The Spanish born forward is currently on loan at CD Jaen from Granada. Despite being born in Malaga, he has opted to play for Honduras, where his father is from. This season he has scored 12 goals and has been scouted by a few clubs but it isn’t his on-pitch actions that have made him headline news.

February 15 was International Childhood Cancer Day and before kick-off Mejia, who is known more commonly as Jona, approached the referee, Raul Gago Santaolalla, and told him that he would be making a gesture to honour the day should he score. The Basque official warned the forward that should he reveal a message from under his shirt he would have no option but to report him.

Jona went on to score and raised his shirt. Under it was a message that read: Get well soon little ones, international childhood cancer day. The gesture went mostly unnoticed until later in the week when the Competition Committee sat down and took action against the player. The committee confirmed that Santaolalla had reported Jona’s actions and the player was given a €2000 fine. Suddenly all of Spain was talking about the decision social networking sites went crazy with anger.

A week before the same committee had fined Atletico de Madrid just €600 after Cristiano Ronaldo had been pelted with a lighter from the stands as he walked off the pitch. The fine had been way too lenient for many and now there was a player being fined over three times that after lifting up his shirt with a message that hurt no one. Not for the first time those responsible were accused of double standards.

Jona admitted his shock after receiving the fine. He revealed he only found out about it after a friend contacted him to tell him about it. He then took to Twitter to thank all those who had sent messages of support. Jona also said that a number of people had contacted him and had offered to pay his fine for him.

Some feel he may not end up paying anything. Another player who was fined for revealing a message was Jose Callejon who in 2010 lifted his shirt to show a message in memory of Dani Jarque. That time the committee relented after fining him and Javi Tebas, the LFP President, hopes they do so again.

‘I believe the committee will cancel the fine, like they did with Callejon remembering Jarque’ said Tebas. The damage is still done and the League’s image has taken another battering. The Ronaldo incident was supposed to show the League was cracking down on culprits but the Jona fine suggests that there is a lot of work left to be done.