In the days when top-level matches were covered by two television cameras rather than 22, angry footballers would mutter the threat: "See you in the tunnel", knowing it was away from the cameras and the referee. Times have changed. With a fourth official and tunnel cameras now in operation, players look for darker corners under the stand to settle scores.
After Levante narrowly lost to Real Madrid in rain-lashed Valencia on Sunday, the aggressive midfielder Sergio Ballesteros went to the medical room with the idea of seeing how Cristiano Ronaldo's eye injury was. That is how he tells it. Others say that he went to find the equally notorious Madrid player Pepe. When the two met, punches were thrown.
Levante allege that Pepe had been mocking them and celebrating in front of the dressing room. If anyone was to sort out such a miscreant, it would be the burly Ballesteros, 37. The police were called and the Madrid players had to wait behind until they arrived.
Levante play on their aggression. A sign near the away dressing room reads: "This is Levante. You come here to play and you might win. But you will definitely suffer." They play to their strengths and such comments are fair game, but violence is not.
One Madrid player complained that if Ballesteros wanted to punch then he should be a boxer. Most of Spain would agree that the often, out of control Pepe needed to be cut down to size. But physical violence to dispute personal grievances is wrong, on or off the camera. It is only a game.
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