Why is the behavior of the teams in the Classico a problem? Why don’t we just concentrate on the excellent football?
Because Real Madrid and Barcelona are the face of football. They the best two teams in the world. They employ about 6-7 of the ten most recognized players of this planet.
So they are the face.
Like the friendly rivalry between Federer and Nadal, and now Nadal and Djokovic, is the wonderful face of tennis. And the endless quarrels between drivers and teams is the unsightly face of Formula 1 in our times.
These things change. The NBA had a distinct image when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who epitomized team play and sportsmanship, were the face of the league. And another face when we have Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, disciples of the “me first” doctrine.
So when the Real-Barcelona games are littered with diving, simulating, referee storming, confrontations, allegations, cursing and moaning it really doesn’t matter that Celtic-Rangers may also be dirty, or Mario Baloteli is violent or not. Because they are not irrelevant Scottish teams. Barca and Real are not the number 5 team in the world. They are the face.
It’s got nothing to do with Fair Play. Fair Play was cancelled sometime around 1934 or thereabout. It’s plain ugly, childish, undignified. It even leads ignorant fans to believe that this is some “Latin” or “Spanish” way. Which is nonsense. Many Latin and Spanish sportsmen are role models of class and dignity.
To use an example. Diego Maradona’s “hand of god” goal was not the worse bit of cheating in the history of football. Not even close to being the worse by Maradona himself. But because of his standing as the best player of his time, the players playing today, have grown up on the notion that cheating and greatness can live together. That the odd fraud is ok and even desired.
Football is rotting. Institutionally corrupt, financially insolvent. Criminal money is flowing and fixed matches rampant world wide. Real and Barca are not responsible and can’t fix football’s problems. But the can give it a nice face. And they aren’t.