EVERY so often English football indulges in soul-searching and navel-gazing after some scandalous happening or other – but yet again we are nowhere near operating at the same level as some other nations.
In the last eight days alone football in Argentina has witnessed three incidents that would have had our ‘red tops’ apoplectic for days on end.
To start with the lesser of the three evils, Barcelona’s former Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano got himself sent off in a World Cup qualifying clash with Ecuador away from home in Quito – for kicking a medical cart driver.
The 29-year-old was being led from the pitch for treatment after a knock when he appeared to have water thrown at him.
To redress the perceived injustice the Argentina captain decided to kick the guy driving the medical cart, thus earning a red card and sparking a furious pitch-side row.
Worth a few column inches you would have thought, but the competition was pretty intense as this followed on the heels of Belle Vista player Jose Jimenez, who apparently qualifies for the epithet of ‘bad boy’, being sent off after sparking an on-pitch brawl – by throwing a dog into a safety fence.
In an away league game against San Juan, the dog inadvisably strayed on to the playing area and Jiminez reportedly tried to hurl it back into the stands.
Sadly his throw fell short and the unlucky canine hit the wire fence, sparking an all-in wrestle between the two sets of players and an eventual red card for the errant Belle Vista defender.
But to follow the odd and the bad, we have to look at the downright ugly side of football in Argentina.
Last week the AFA (Argentine Football Federation) banned all away supporters at matches.
This followed the death of a fan of Lanus on a trip to play Estudiantes in La Plata, near Buenos Aires.
The death of the 42-year-old Lanus supporter was reportedly caused by a rubber bullet fired by police as they attempted to bring fighting between fans to a halt – the fatality was the 70th associated with football violence in Argentina since 2000. So when the tabloids tell you English football is in crisis, just remember to put it in context.