Thirteen years were completed on November 19 of the serious incidents that embarrassed the NBA in the eyes of half the world and changed the league forever. That brutal fight, which began on the parquet floor of the Palace of Auburn Hills and moved to the stands, was baptized by the media as if a new installment of rivalry between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was (Malice in the Palace) But that's where the literary concessions ended with so much blushing. Just two days later, the NBA announced historic sanctions totaling 146 suspension games and more than 11 million dollars in fines distributed among nine players, five from the Indiana Pacers and four from the Detroit Pistons. To these had to be added the sentences for public disorder and aggression against Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal, Anthony Johnson and David Harrison dictated by ordinary justice.
This week, in contrast, Spanish football has left us with a new sample of intolerable violence – we will see if tolerated – between employees of Valencia and Getafe. I say employees because, sometimes, it is convenient to deprive athletes of any glamor to better understand the rowdy, even criminal, nature of some acts. A quick review of the minutes, written by the referee Estrada Fernández, confronts us with some facts that, unequivocally, would place the aforementioned outside the law if nobody does anything to remedy it. "Once the match ended and we entered the tunnel of costumes," Estrada writes about Damián Nicolás Suárez, "he nudges a member of Valencia CF who was wearing club clothes and immediately afterwards hits another member in the face. Later inside the tunnel, he went to my assistant Nº1 while hitting him with his index finger in the chest repeatedly and threatening him ". For his fortune, the events recounted happened on a soccer field, that kind of international waters where everything is allowed and not in a restaurant, a shoe store or his own house.
"My life is in your hands," pleaded the referee to a lieutenant of the armed police who escorted him to the rest of that historic victory of Pontevedra against Real Madrid, in old Pasarón. The anecdote is told by journalist Xabi Fortes whenever the occasion arose, among other things because the military man in question was his father. "I would say that it is rather in theirs," replied Don Xosé Fortes in a clear allusion to the arguable arbitration that was being perpetrated by the referee that afternoon. The anecdote has its grace because it refers us to a past, almost remote, in which violence remained entrenched in a society that came from waging war and perceived this type of incident as something folkloric. But not anymore.
That is why it would be convenient for the competent authorities, not only the sports ones, to make the players understand that their status as heroes of the people does not exempt them from complying with the law. And because a brutal fight does not cease to be so for dressing its protagonists bright colors and name it – amateurs and journalists – tangana, which is a very traditional way of referring to the violence of walking around the house: the very one of soccer, yes, but also some another that, every day that passes, seems to embarrass us less and less.