Javier Mascherano has been known as one of world soccer’s most fiery characters for some time. That won’t change anytime soon.
Of the many red cards Mascherano has seen in his career, the one he earned on Tuesday must be the most absurd. The 29-year old was sent off near the end of Argentina’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ecuador for kicking the driver of the medical cart that was taking him off the field.
Mascherano suffered an injury which required medical attention in the 86th minute. As the cart carried him toward the sidelines, he inexplicably kicked the driver in his arm and shoulder. Referee Enrique Caceres saw this, waited until Mascherano got off the cart and dismissed the Argentina captain from the game — presumably for violent conduct.
The real violence almost followed, as Mascherano tried to fight Caceres. Teammates and riot police had to separate them, but the damage was already done. The Argentina and Barcelona star is facing at least a three-game ban for his action.
ESPN reports Mascherano was apologetic after the game. He added that he had a good reason for kicking the driver.
“I feel ashamed,” he said. “You must always be against violence. The truth is I made a mistake. It is not nice that you get sent off in such a way, and generate such a controversy.
“The cart was going too quickly, I was moving around and thought I might fall. We told the medic to go slower, he ignored me and I reacted. But, I repeat, it was not justified.”
If Mascherano ever finds himself wondering “Why always me?,” this is why.
Watch Mascherano kick the cart driver in the video below.