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Fan throws lighter at Cristiano Ronaldo, Atlético Madrid pay the $800 price


Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo scores his goal during a semi final, 2nd leg, Copa del Rey soccer match between Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

On Tuesday, Cristiano Ronaldo scored two first-half penalties at the Vicente Calderón to put Real Madrid up 2-0 over crosstown rivals Atlético Madrid. That put the visitors up 5-0 on aggregate, and, despite 45 minutes left to play, almost certain to be on their way to the Copa del Rey final.

Is it any wonder that fans were frustrated? Atlético had had such a good start to the season, and, while still tied for first with Real and Barcelona, had hit a couple bumps along the way. In between the two legs of the semi-final, Atleti had lost 2-0 at struggling side Almeria. Now here they were, barely putting up a fight against their rivals. Tensions were high.

Still, it’s never a good idea to launch a lighter at a player, particularly when that player is superstar Ronaldo. Yet that’s just what one of the home fans did, bouncing the projectile off the Real forward’s head at the half-time break. And now Atlético must pay €600, or just a bit more than $800, as punishment.

But even considering the state of Spanish football, $800 seems like a rather paltry amount. Indeed, it’s really more of a symbolic punishment, a small fine that would’ve been reduced further had the fan who had thrown the lighter been found.

And that’s how it should be - unless football clubs want to start banning everything that can possibly be thrown from the stadiums. Think of the expense involved in frisking each fan down for items that could possibly be launched at the pitch. Barring further incidents at the Atleti stadium, it’s best for the Spanish Football Federation to give a slap on the wrist, realizing there’s little else the club could do that wouldn’t be an overreaction to a welt on the head of one of the world’s top players.

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