Friday,14 December, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1357, (17 - 23 August 2017)
Friday,14 December, 2018
Issue 1357, (17 - 23 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Seen on Egyptian TV

El Clasicos I and II were shown live on Egyptian TV, the first time matches of such high repute have been broadcast since the start of broadcasting rights more than a  decade ago, Alaa Abdel-Ghani reports


By the time Al-Ahram Weekly goes to press, the second El Clasico leg would have been played and either Real Madrid, 3-1 up after the first match, or Neymar-less Barcelona, would have won the Spanish Super Cup. But one thing is for sure: Egyptians got to see both games without paying a piastre.  

Thanks to ON Sport, El Clasicos I and II were shown live on Egyptian TV. The channel is trying to break the hammerlock of Qatar’s beIN Sports which holds the broadcasting rights to the world’s biggest football tournaments, including the World Cup, the European Champions League, the Euro Championship and just as important for Egyptians, the African Champions League and Africa Cup of Nations.

In an initial attempt to wean viewers off beIN Sports whose subscription fees are exceptionally high by Egyptian standards, ON Sport aired the Spanish games for free to increase viewership which in turn draws huge commercial revenues.

The result was that for the first time since the start of broadcasting rights more than a decade ago, Egyptians watched a pair of world class matches for free. The sounds of cheers and gasps during the Real-Barcelona clashes came from the cozy confines of homes, not cafes which are hooked up to football satellite TV channels which Egyptians have increasingly turned to for foreign match-viewing.

What TV viewers saw in El Clasico was a game that didn’t spring to life until the second half. The referee also became the centre of attention, a usually bad sign.

So it was for Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea who should have given a penalty but did not, should not have given a penalty but did, and waved a wrong red card as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 in the Spanish Super Cup first leg on Sunday at the Nou Camp.

In the first uneventful half of this season’s first El Clasico, the arm of Real’s Dani Carvajal got in the way of a waist-high cross from Gerard Deulofeu in the box. The contact was unintentional but it was still a penalty. Bengoetxea waved any such notion away.


It was in the second half, when the game’s tempo picked up dramatically, that Bengoetxea’s mistakes shot up as well. Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas was adjudged to have brought down Luis Suarez in the box. But the Uruguayan appeared to dive to win the penalty. Even had Suarez remained on his two feet, he had pushed the ball too far ahead of him. A penalty it was not.

There was still enough time for one more Bengoetxea mishap. Cristiano Ronaldo had tumbled in the box after clashing with Samuel Umtiti, for which he was shown a second yellow card.

Bengoetxea adjudged that Ronaldo had dived in the Barcelona penalty area but in reality the two players were going shoulder to shoulder. What was a nothing burger suddenly turned into a red card for the Portuguese star.

Despite the refereeing miscues, the match, which pitted last season’s La Liga champions against the winners of the Copa del Rey, had four goals in an action-packed second half. Gerard Pique slid Marcelo’s cross into his own net before Lionel Messi levelled with the penalty that should not have been given.

But Messi was soon upstaged at the other end by Ronaldo who was a substitute, and who restored Real’s lead when he unleashed an unstoppable curling effort home.

To celebrate the occasion, Ronaldo peeled off his shirt to show off his perfect abs. For that, he was shown the yellow card which started the chain of events which eventually led to his dismissal.

For good measure, as Ronaldo was leaving the pitch he shoved Bengoetxea in the back out of frustration.

For the petulance, Ronaldo received a five-match ban, thereby missing the second leg scheduled for Wednesday.

Not only will Real miss Ronaldo’s services but he has denied the world of seeing the best player in the world. However, fans should not have that much sympathy for a player who carelessly celebrates shirtless – an automatic yellow card – then intentionally pushes the referee because he didn’t like the call. Even super stars should be taken to task when they’re wrong.

When Ronaldo was kicked out it was 2-1 to Real, playing with 10 men. It was Barca’s chance to level but Marco Asensio smashed in Real’s third.

The absence of Neymar, who was traded away just a week earlier to Paris-Saint Germain in the mother of all football deals, seemed to have thrown Barcelona off kilter. The deal shattered the famed ‘MSN’ strike-force and it will take time before Barcelona find another winning treble.

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