Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fair Play: Lessons from a previous brawl

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's March 27 issue)
IN coming up with a decision on the 2014 brawl between Alcoy FC and Ateneo de Cebu in the Aboitiz Cup, the CFA cited the sanctions on the 2005 brawl between Hiroshi and Crazy Horse in the 2005 Thirsty Cup and the two-year bans the players received.

I was there in 2005 and I saw it happen and the circumstances that led to it.And those involved in the latest brawl may learn a thing or two with what happened that day.

Of course, there’s a stark difference between players in the Men’s Open and in an 18-Under match, but those involved in the 2005 brawl would have died of shame if their parents got involved.

It was a semifinal match between the favorites to win the title, and not one of them were talking trash.

I saw the first hit and the perfect response and but that was not when that free-for-all started. The guy from Hiroshi whacked a Crazy Horse defender from behind, and the defender just grabbed his head and went down. No retaliation. The other guy got a red card.

A few minutes later, things escalated. A Crazy Horse striker got tackled so hard he flew off the sidelines; he ran back, punched the tackler and that’s when all hell broke loose.

Those involved got two years.

But even before those two years ended, some of the players were already drinking buddies as early as a day after the event, while some even shifted teams and played for the side they were against in the brawl.

Why was that?

Because of honesty and remorse.

I talked to the guy who started the brawl and asked him, why did you punch him?
His answer is something I still remember this day.

“Breaks of the game ba, basi makalusot.”

Of course, he never got to that makalusot part.

I’ve talked to most of those involved and the general consensus was this--they got carried away in the heat of the moment and did things they shouldn’t have done and regretted it.

Not one of them ever said that “rumbles are normal in football because it’s a physical sport.” And I know that less than a week after the incident, members of both teams were enjoying drinks together. Not that I am suggesting the Under 18 players go get drunk together, what I’m saying is reconciliation, if you really want it, is possible.

A week after the latest incident, we have lawyers talking, a couple of meetings with the vice governor and a dialogue set with the governor.

No remorse. No acceptances of guilt but exchanges of “the other party started it.”

The CFA cited the 2005 brawl as reference for their decision, but perhaps those involved in the 2014 brawl can learn a few “references.”

It happened. You had a role why it happened. Stop blaming the other team.

One of the suggestions the CFA is mulling is when this is all over, they want Alcoy FC and SHS-Ateneo de Cebu to play again.

To let them remember what football is all about without the animosity and the atmosphere of hate.

And I think that’s a good idea.

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