Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fair Play: Of crabs, pranks and an imaginary scene

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu, March 19)
"PLEASE Lord, isa lang Lord," my buddy Mark Concha was praying beside me in the final minutes of the semifinal match between Turkmenistan and the Philippines in the AFC Challenge Cup.

And I think the multitude of fans all over the country, and the Pinoys based abroad (some of whom want to meet a certain Arnold Clavio), were thinking of the same thing.

After that 25th minute goal by Phil Younghusband, I didn't want to look forward to the finals as it might jinx the team, but I couldn't help, sometimes, to get way ahead of myself. Heck, I was having visions of UFL founder Santi Araneta getting arrested for drunken behavior since the Kaya FC owner promised to swim at some hotel's fountain if we won.

And that 25th-minute goal was something. Me, Doc Joel, Egay, Raffy and Mark, like the rest of the fans, were screaming like crazy. 

But the 80th and 85th minutes happened, and worse, Neil Etheridge let his emotions get the better of him.  When the referee showed Neil the red card, the guys at the Azkals Sports Bar were stunned.

Me? I closed my eyes, bowed my head and admitted that we were going to lose. Might have been teary-eyed, too.

That was a heart-breaker, and it was a sad end to Neil's brilliant showing in the Challenge Cup. As they say, a goalie can play superbly for 89 minutes, but a minute's worth of indiscretion could overshadow that.

We could have won the match, we should have won and the players and coaching staff, and the fans, too are devastated by the loss.

But that's football. And that's sports, sometimes the breaks don't fall our way and prior to the semis, we did get a lot of the breaks.

Based on the twitter updates after the match, some fans were ready to go to war because of the loss, ready to vent their ire on who would be foolish enough to mock them for their loss.

I was surprisingly calm, and even advised fans not to pick a fight just because we lost.  I also took comfort in the fact that it was the first time that the Philippines was in contention for a final.

But then that was before I read that GMA has answered the PFF complaint on Arnold Clavio's racist remarks and said there was nothing wrong, according to their standards, because the journalist made it during the "unscripted portion of the program."

Eh? GMA? What are you smoking?

It seems guys who haven't seen a newsroom know more about responsible journalism than you and I guess, we will just have to take comfort in the fact that not all journalists have your twisted logic (If they did, journalists will spend have their lives answering libel complaints).

By the way, for today's game. I want you to imagine this.  Close your eyes, and imagine hearing Mike Enriquez's distinct tone..."Inaresto po ang isang lalake dahil po sa pagligo nya sa fountain sa isang hotel, Arnold Clavio, pasok!"

"Mike nandito ako kasama ang mga.....AAAAAHH!!!!"

"Excuse me po! Igan? Igan?”
Then cue in ANC’s breaking news announcement.

“This is just in. A journalist was hurt in a prank minutes after the battle for third place between the Palestine and the Philippines.  While doing his live report, a very large crab was shoved at his back….before fleeing the scene, the pranksters were overheard screaming the crab was bred and raised in the Philippines.”

Based on the GMA statement, we will have more chances of seeing that scenario play out than Arnold Clavio and GMA acknowledging their mistakes.  Again, it’s not sexual harassment, this is about the two racists remarks of Clavio.

It has been six days since Arnold Clavio said Philippine national team members “are not Filipinos, and are just pretending to be brown-skinned” on national TV and three days since GMA 7 said it was his constitutionally-protected freedom.

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