Monday, January 23, 2012

Pepe and Balotelli

Soccer is a very physical sport. I have played it, watched it, and coached it for years – so I am very aware of its physical nature as well as the rush of the competitiveness. You have the hard challenges, the tackles, the 50/50’s – people are going to get banged up sometimes, so one needs to be prepared for that fact. No one should really get bent out of shape for the incidental contact that is part of the game. However, there is a definite line that can be crossed. The world saw two gross examples of the line being crossed over the last couple of weeks.

Pepe (Real Madrid) and Mario Balotelli (Manchester City) were the recent sad examples of going beyond the usual physicality of soccer. Pepe appeared to intentionally step on Lionel Messi’s hand in the last match between Real Madrid and Barcelona, and Balotelli appeared to intentionally kick Scotty Parker in the head in Man City’s match with Tottenham. Both incidents occurred while the ‘recipient of the boot’ was on the ground and after the whistle blew. The news today is that La Liga took no action against Pepe, but the FA did suspend Balotelli for four games.

I personally have very strong feelings about Pepe and Balotelli – truth be told I can’t stand either one of them. And to make matters worse, Messi and Parker happen to be two players that I absolutely respect, they are definitely in my short list of favorite players. But this isn’t about a personal rant against individuals; this is about respecting individual players and respecting The Beautiful Game. Hey, mix it up, get physical, try to win that ball, protect yourself…but when the whistle blows, separate yourself from the opposing player and move on…we are all watching.

Take a look at the videos and let me know what you think.

Photo: Scotty Parker of Tottenham

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