José Mourinho is likely to escape punishment for his behaviour during the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday night, despite appearing to thrust a finger into the eye of Barcelona's assistant manager, Tito Vilanova, during a mêlée at the side of the pitch in the final minute.
Vilanova slapped Mourinho back during a touchline brawl in which David Villa punched Mesut Ozil and players and technical staff squared up to each other. Trouble flared after Marcelo launched into a wild tackle on Cesc Fábregas, leading to his dismissal.
Mourinho's actions have brought widespread condemnation but he is not expected to face charges. Because what he did was not recorded in the referee's official report, action is not taken automatically. An investigation would also be opened in the event of Barcelona making a formal complaint but it is understood that they do not plan to do so, even though the Barcelona vice-president, Carles Villarubí, described Mourinho as a "stain on football".
The body that investigates disciplinary issues and hands out fines and suspensions, the competition committee, meets next week. The committee, which comes under the control of the Spanish football federation, the RFEF, handles all matters in the Spanish football league, the LFP. However, in the Copa del Rey and the Super Cup competitions, which are run by the RFEF and not the LFP, the committee's president, Alfredo Flores, acts alone. He does not, at the moment, intend unilaterally to begin disciplinary proceedings.
Uefa, meanwhile, considers this a domestic issue that does not come under its jurisdiction – even though Mourinho is serving a five-game Uefa ban, two games of which are suspended subject to his good behaviour.
Mourinho did not lash out at Vilanova in a moment's anger. Television footage showed that he calmly walked up behind the Barcelona No2 and reached round to grab him, before turning and walking away. As he did so Vilanova slapped him. At first Mourinho appeared to be grabbing at Vilanova's cheek but photos showed his finger in his eye. After the game Mourinho did not comment on the incident except to claim that he did not know who "Pito" Vilanova was. Although it may not have been intentional, Pito is slang for penis.
"The images speak for themselves," Pep Guardiola said afterwards. The Barcelona coach added that he feared "where this will end".
The Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué accused Mourinho of destroying Spanish football. "It is not the players' fault," Piqué said. "I have played against them before and this did not happen. We even beat them 6-2 at their stadium and this didn't happen. I have lived alongside them [in the national team] and they are brilliant people. I don't think they're the guilty parties. People accuse us, the Catalans, of being the guilty party but the guilty [man] is in Madrid.
"He is ruining Spanish football. They have to look at the video, analyse it and decide who is responsible. It's not the first time this has happened, it has happened many times, and something has to be done. It is always the same people. Measures are needed. Things can't always end up the same way."
Villarubí added that the Portuguese coach had succeeded in changing the character of Madrid's players. "Mourinho," he said, "is a stain on Spanish football. [Real Madrid] cannot support him over things like yesterday. [Iker] Casillas has gone from a prudent person to someone who is crazy – he has been changed completely."
Even the unashamedly partisan Madrid media was unimpressed by Mourinho's behaviour. Alfredo Relaño, the editor of the Sports daily AS, said: "It is time for Florentino [Pérez, the Madrid president]to reflect seriously on this because it is starting to become serious." A poll in the newspaper El Mundo showed that 85% thought the accusations directed at Mourinho by Barcelona's players were correct.
As for the man in the middle of the brawl, he was among the few people remaining calm. "It was a bad tackle – I was lucky [not to get hurt]," Fábregas said. "But I didn't see anything after that."
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