Atletico Madrid are set to escape punishment as the supporter who threw a cigarette lighter at Cristiano Ronaldo during Tuesday’s 2-0 Copa del Rey semifinal second leg win for Real Madrid at the Estadio Vicente Calderon cannot be identified by club officials or police.
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After scoring two early penalties in the game to seal Madrid’s 5-0 aggregate passage to the final, Ronaldo was hit by the object thrown from the crowd as he walked from the pitch at the half-time.
Referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco included the incident in his official match report submitted to the Spanish FA after the game and Spain’s authorities could decide to fine the host club up to 30,000 euros and close their ground for one to three games.
Madrid’s Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos have both called for the thrower to be punished, while Atletico director Clemente played down the seriousness of the event after the game.
Atletico are working closely with Spanish police officials to identify the culprit, with no luck so far, however they hope that pictures provided by broadcasters may be of help. Reports suggest, however, it has been conclusively proven that it was "an isolated incident," and the club are unlikely to face any sanction.
Spanish media have also been recalling similar past incidents, none of which lead to serious punishment for the individuals or clubs involved. Just last week, in the semifinal first leg at Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, a soft drinks can -- which, unlike lighters, are banned from grounds for safety reasons -- came close to hitting Atletico coach Diego Simeone. Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois was also hit by a lighter during last season’s Copa del Rey final at the Bernabeu, and received treatment on the pitch before continuing.
Going further back, a lighter was thrown at Barcelona defender Gerard Pique in a Copa game at the Bernabeu last season. Then Sevilla coach Juande Ramos was knocked unconscious when hit by a bottle in a derbi at Real Betis’ Estadio Benito Villamarin during the 2006-07 season, and a pig’s head was famously thrown at Madrid’s Luis Figo at the Camp Nou in November 2002, when the returning former Barca player was attempting to take a corner.