CRonaldoChristiano Ronaldo is not exactly a popular player amongst football referees, but in the weekend’s La Liga match between Real and Almeria (where Madrid won 4-2), he was red-carded for one of the most absurd offenses in the game—for taking off his shirt. Technically, it was his first yellow card of the game, but after receiving another for an unfair challenge, he was sent for an early shower. Because God forbid the players give way to some emotion and “cheat” the sponsors on the shirt from a tiny bit of exposure.

The official reason given is that players “waste time” by taking off their shirt and then having to put it back on, but that explanation has always seemed absurd to me, compared to the other things looked over. Some teams, when in a favorable position, can basically lie around the pitch for the entire 2nd half, only for the referee to give a measly 3-4 minutes of stoppage time. Other players, of various skill levels, dive all throughout the game, but officials are afraid to sanction them (ironically, Ronaldo is sometimes an example of this too). Too often, they are embarrassed to give a free kick, but can’t produce a yellow card, because then they’d have to start booking and sending off entire teams—not exactly a good image for the game.

In contrast, it takes less than three seconds to put your shirt back on. Not quick enough to spare you the yellow card, however. Go figure!


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