Chelsea star Diego Costa’s clash with Gareth Barry was a product of the passions that make football appeal to fans and it would be unwise to get “carried away” over the Spaniard’s latest on-field controversy, says Joey Barton
Costa was sent off for the first time in his Chelsea career as Guus Hiddink’s team lost 2-0 to Everton on Saturday in the FA Cup, with some replays of his on-field clash with Gareth Barry at Goodison Park prompting suggestions he might have attempted to bite the former England midfielder.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez said afterwards that Barry had no issue with the incident and Costa later strenuously denied the biting allegations via a Chelsea club statement.
Ex-Manchester City and Newcastle United player Barton, who has been no stranger to controversial incidents throughout his career, agreed that Barry’s reaction suggested no bite took place and urged understanding over individuals losing their cool in high-pressure matches.
“I’ve been involved in numerous similar [incidents], similar if not worse, on a football pitch,” Barton told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek programme.
“Tempers get frayed, that’s football. We wouldn’t want players to be walking around cold and calculated and emotionless because we wouldn’t be getting the product that we all love.
“I’m not saying we accept it – there are many things I’ve done that are not great for the game. If I could go back and change them I would, but strange things happen to people when they’ve got adrenaline and emotion coursing through their veins during football matches.
“You see lot of incidents where these things happen because we care. I know that’s not an excuse but I don’t think you want to take the edge off.
“The reality of it is that Diego Costa is, from time to time, a pantomime villain but he’s a fantastic footballer.”
Barton added: “You can’t get too self-righteous in my position. What you have to remember is nobody’s died, it’s a game of football.
“You’ve had two grown men square-up. No punches have been thrown, nothing serious has happened.
“Both of them have gone home to their families; one team has lost, one team has won. We have to be careful not to get too carried away.
“Goals and playing on the edge, high-intensity and passion is why we love football.”
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