Monday, August 20, 2012

Brawl bother down under

Football Federation Australia today finds itself dealing with an altogether different headlines and an inquiry into an ugly brawl between Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix at Weston, while new A-League chief Damien de Bohun might have hoped for a gentler introduction to life in his new role.

There can be no condoning the nasty exchange that cleared both benches in front of 2,000 fans but a slap on the wrist is all that is required here.

The powder-keg moment arrived when Manny Muscat reacted badly to a heavy challenge from Tiago Calvano - the pair were both sent for an early bath, while Ben Sigmund was also given his marching orders.

Wellington captain Andrew Durante would later be sent off by rookie referee Tim McGilchrist for retaliating to a tackle from Scott Neville.

Jets coach Gary van Egmond called it right when he told news soccer networks: "I would hope there is no repercussions".

Fartoo often there is a rush from pundits and experts to take the moral high-ground when, actually, the referee called it right in any event.

There has to be an acceptance that at the highest level there is every chance games will go off because of the intrinsically competitive nature of the players and compared to, say, the NRL, this was nothing more than a robust exchange of handbags.

True, the timing was awful off the back of the much more serious incidents between rival supporters which marred a Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers – two sides with AFC Champions league aspirations - trial match in Campbelltown but the two do not go hand in glove.

Instead of rushing to play judge, jury and executioner, justice should be allowed to run its course.

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