UEFA look set to rumble Sergio Ramos’ little ploy to free himself up for the Champions League quarter-finals after the Real Madrid captain appeared to get himself deliberately booked against Ajax on Wednesday night.
Marco Asensio put Real 2-1 up with just a few minutes to play, shortly after which Ramos – judging the result to be in the bag – went steaming into Kasper Dolberg on the halfway line and duly picked up a yellow card for his troubles.
Speculation was immediate that Ramos had got himself cautioned on purpose to instigate a one-match ban that would keep him out of the second leg at the Bernabeu but clear his slate as and when Los Blancos made it through to the last eight.
Quiero dejar claro que me duele más que a nadie, que no he forzado la tarjeta, como tampoco lo hice contra la Roma en mi anterior partido de @ChampionsLeague, y que apoyaré desde la grada como un hincha más con la ilusión de poder estar en cuartos.#HalaMadrid https://t.co/zL0Heok5Vp
— Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) 13 February 2019
As the media continued to deliberate, Ramos tweeted to inform the world that he “did not force the card”.
The only minor bone of contention was that the 32-year-old had already admitted the opposite in a post-match television interview.
🚨🚨🚨¡¡OJO!! ¿HA FORZADO LA TARJETA @SergioRamos?
“Sí, la verdad que viendo el resultado… Es algo que tenía presente. No es subestimar al rival pero a veces toca tomar decisiones y lo he decidido así”.
— El Chiringuito TV (@elchiringuitotv) 13 February 2019
“Yes, the truth is that seeing the result, it was something I had in mind. I would be lying if I said I didn’t force [the booking],” Ramos said.
“It’s not about underestimating the opponent, but sometimes it’s about making decisions – and I’ve decided that.”
Anyway, it’s now for UEFA to decide whether or not to exact further punishment on Ramos as, according to their very own disciplinary regulations, players face a two-game suspension “for clearly receiving a yellow or red card on purpose”.
That was the exact same fate that befell Dani Carvajal, Ramos’ teammate at Real, when he was shown a ‘tactical’ yellow card against APOEL in last season’s Champions League group stage which was later deemed to be wholly deliberate.
Will UEFA have the wherewithal to meter out a consistent sanction? Honestly, we’re not overly confident.