After a miserable match, how could Villarreal make things worse? Well, by starting a fight. Here's what happened, according to Eurosport and the referee's official match report. Trust me, it's a bit complicated.
At the end of the match:
- Joseba Llorente was yellow carded for dissent.
- Robert Pires called the ref a bad name- perhaps the best-known Spanish phrase.
- Valverde's top assistant Jon Aspiazu threatened the ref. Essentially he said that the ref will be banned from further matches by the league.
It gets better. After the teams went to the locker room:
- The referee heard shouts and left his changing room to find a mess outside. Players, coaches, trainers, other staff, and security were engaged in a scuffle with no sign of who/what started it.
- It's believed that the fight originated between Diego Lopez and an unnamed Xerez player. Heavy sanctions are likely for all involved.
Can the team set a new low? First the Bruno-Cani fight in training, now a loss to the worst team in La Liga and the likely suspension of multiple players/coaches. Not to mention Valverde's impending firing (way to blame the refs, coach). This will be a fun buildup to the Lazio and Malaga games, won't it? But at least it shows that the players care.
UPDATE: Diego Lopez now says that his complaints were directed at the officials, not at any Xerez players or fans. He admits that he lost his cool, but claims that the incident took place in the entrance to the changing rooms. This contradicts the earlier reports and should reduce any possible punishment.
UPDATE 2: The story gets even more interesting. Now Robert Pires says that the referee's story is untrue. According to Pires, he politely asked to speak with the referee 3 times after the match ended. After being refused, he blurted out a colorful word in French. On the team site, Pires explains that the word, as native French speakers would know, is not directed at a given individual. Then he apologized IF he offended the official, which he obviously did. Not a very classy move by a player I deeply respect, but maybe it's enough to keep him on the field.