Luka Modric has been accused of deliberately committing a foul to earn a yellow card against Getafe on Sunday that would ensure he miss Real Madrid’s game against minnows Elche and return for the mouth-watering clash against Atletico Madrid in two weeks’ time.
The Croatian international has been the lynchpin of the side this year, as they look to emulate the Barcelona side of 2009 in winning an unprecedented treble.
Yet, not for the first time, the Spanish giants have found themselves having to face claims of bringing the game into disrepute.
Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso were both accused of the same offence three years ago, when they both appeared to receive tactical red cards in a Champions League game against Ajax to ensure they be free from suspension for the latter rounds of the tournament.
Incidentally, the pair appeared to earn tactical yellow cards in the 3-0 European triumph over Galatasary last year, meaning they were banned from the second leg and free to play in the next round of the competition.
It now begs the question, is it actually that bad?
Though the decision as to who plays when is down to a combination of the manager and the footballing governing bodies, players have every right to reserve themselves if they fear missing out on a grandiose sporting occasion.
At the end of the day, for all the preparation behind the scenes it is the players who have to cope with both the physical and mental demands of the sport.
Sporting contests are blighted when the top players are not available. Paul Scholes and Roy Keane were pivotal for Manchester United during the treble season, but were unavailable for the 1999 Champions League final due to suspension.
Fans pay their money and deserve to be entertained by the icons of the sport. Depriving them of such an honour would be an insult to the integrity of the game.
If there is such a chance that a player can avoid missing a crucial game, even if it means sacrificing their inclusion in a fixture considered less important, then the player must do everything in his power to do this.
However, on the other hand, it is morally wrong.
One of the great appeals of sport is that of the unknown. The feeling that anything can happen and nothing is guaranteed.
For Modric, and Ramos and Alonso before him, going into the game knowing they will receive a booking is unethical and reeks of dishonesty.
Madrid, as one of the leading superpowers of the sport, could be seen as setting a bad example for those hoping for a career in both the club and the game.
The debate is open for discussion.
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