Sunday October 30 2016
Tetchy Tebas

La Liga chief Javier Tebas finds himself in a sticky situation after he alientated Barcelona by branding their players “embarrassing”. Daryl Hammond assesses the damage.

When boos and whistles rang around Camp Nou around 12 minutes into Barcelona’s match against Granada, it wasn’t because of a tenuous offside decision against Neymar.

Rather it was the chastisement of the Brazilian and his Barca teammates’ celebration by La Liga President Javier Tebas following last week’s last-gasp win against Valencia that brought on the orchestrated protest.

‘Tebas vete ya’ (Tebas go now) were the cries from Blaugrana fans as fans in the north stand held up red cards and others waived white handkerchiefs.

The President seemed to place the microscope on the behaviour of the Barca players and not the fans during an incident that saw Neymar struck by a water bottle at the end of last week's match.

Tebas was pretty candid with his thoughts, suggesting the players feigned injury comparing their actions to “10-pin bowling” in the way the Catalans’ players went down and insisting the crowd were provoked into attacking.

When such matters occur, what clubs want to see from the governing body is swift condemnation and sanctions, instead of possible justification for deplorable actions.

Could racist, homophobic or any other vitriolic actions from fans be justified for example?

Conversely, it could be argued that despite the passion of the moment, it wasn’t the best idea to celebrate in front of the Valencia fans. Moveover, Neymar did appear to goad Los Che’s supporters and the club have a reputation for overreacting on the pitch.

Despite the President rightly condemning fan behaviour, with Valencia fined and the offender banned for life, his comments on the Spanish champions remain the topic of conversation. The comments totally shifted the focus. As if the reaction to violence is worse than the violence itself.          

Barca have since countered his comments by reporting the LFP chief to the Administrative Court for Sport and withdrawing their support for him as President.

This isn’t the first time Tebas has been at odds with Barca. He previously suggested La Blaurgana would not be welcome in La Liga should Catalonia secede from Spain.

Impartiality or lack thereof has been a huge talking point in the United States’ presidential race and here too it has a part to play, with Tebas known as a lifelong Real Madrid fan.

To play devil’s advocate, his support of Madrid is an easy stick with which to beat him. He’s the head of one of the world’s biggest football Leagues. He has to be an avid fan and, by consequence, support someone.

“Of course he dislikes Barca,” one might say. Any criticism of Barca could be countered this comment. But whether such comments and criticism should exist in the first place is another question.

His dramatisation of the incident through the use of the comparison to bowling and suggestion the players would have embarrassed their children was perhaps unbecoming of a top football executive.

Unsurprising from a frustrated Coach, fan or player on the losing side to such a close game but a different tone from the man at the top. The bottle-thrower in question shares a similar opinion. He has since apologised, but will Tebas?

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