Even though no good can result from a disaster like the plane crash that killed 77 people, including most of the players of Brazilian club Chapecoense, the aftermath reminds us that there are more important things than trophies, league tables and bad offside calls.
It should also reinforce – particularly in Australian soccer – the inextricability of internationalism in our sport.
That ought to be obvious of course but both admirers and hypercritics of the game here like to exaggerate our differences. More on that later.
Immediately showing us how few degrees of separation there are, Brazilian striker Bobô lined up for Sydney FC in Wednesday night’s FFA Cup final.
A few observers noted Bobô’s connection to the tragedy but no one seemed to pick up that it might also be relevant to Melbourne City captain Bruno Fornaroli.
Though he’s Uruguayan, Fornaroli’s birthplace isn’t much further from Chapecó, home of the Chapecoense club, in Brazil’s south than Melbourne is from Adelaide. (Brazil’s southern states have some strong cultural links to Argentina and Uruguay.)
The Melbourne City star also spent some time on loan at Figueirense which, like Chapecoense, is a club based in Brazilian state Santa Catarina.
After such a sad event, the FFA Cup decider would provide Australian fans the opportunity for some light relief but it did more than that and gave us comedy as well.
Sure, Tim Cahill scored the only goal to decide the match in Melbourne City’s favour but the evening will also be remembered for a pause in play which allowed Sydney FC ‘keeper Danny Vukovic to carry a stricken seagull to safety.
That moment was trumped by Fornaroli himself who, after painstakingly reading an acceptance speech from cue cards, signed off by dropping an f-bomb.
The weekend’s action included two Brazilians playing for Adelaide United: Mônica in the W-League and Henrique in the A-League. The men’s team faced Wellington whose Gui Finkler (from Brazil’s south) knew several Chapecoense players who lost their lives.
Mônica (whose home city Porto Alegre is also in the south of Brazil) played an important part in the women’s team’s thrilling 2-2 draw with Canberra on Saturday night; Henrique scored two stunning goals to fire the Reds to their first win of the season and lift them off the bottom of the table.
But the weekend also showed us that, while Australian soccer has its traits, we tend to overstate them.
A chap who has 41 Socceroos caps embarrassed all of us who’d like to think that Aussie players are above that sort of nonsense
Referee hunting season continued. I’ve mentioned it before but critics are wrong to suggest that we have particularly bad officials here. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many fans who are more positive about the game here like to maintain that blights on the sport like playacting aren’t a big problem in the A-League (and if they are, it’s mostly foreign players who are responsible).
Enter Brisbane Roar’s Jade North with a pathetic fall to the ground which would have made Brazilian World Cup winner Rivaldo blush.
Yep, Jade North – a chap who has 41 Socceroos caps and made his club debut in the National Soccer League last century – has embarrassed all of us who’d like to think that Aussie players are above that sort of nonsense.
There should be further punishment and it must be severe
There was some sporting justice after North’s theatrics. Roar’s opponent Melbourne City (rightly) didn’t stop playing and, amid some confusion, scored an equalising goal.
Nevertheless there should be further punishment and it must be severe. While North isn’t the only person guilty of playacting in the A-League, I don’t recall ever seeing a worse example.
The message needs to be sent out to the rest of the competition: it’s not on.
That would also have been an unfitting end to a tragic week. Thankfully it finished with Henrique’s two sublime strikes which remind us why we love the game.
Paul Marcuccitti is a co-presenter of 5RTI’s Soccer on 531 program which can be heard from 10am on Saturdays.
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