Monday, February 25, 2008
Okay, so for those of you who follow soccer (why else would you be reading this blog?), this past weekend came with a sad note. Brazilian-born Croat Eduardo da Silva suffered a potentially career-ending injury (triple fracture) in a match between his team (Arsenal) and Birmingham (not Alabama!). Following this came death threats for the culprit Martin Taylor, Wenger's arguments that Taylor "has no place in the pitch," and that teams have been trying to "break Arsenal" all season long. Some have rallied to support Taylor against the backlash he's receiving from all angles. Now, after looking at the repeat I would say that it was definitely intentional, as in I'm-fouling-you-so-you-can't-score kind of way, but not at all in a I'm-breaking-your-leg-because-my-coach-told-me-to manner. Earlier this year I saw highlights from a UEFA Cup (Champion's League qualy maybe?) match between a Portuguese side against some other European opponent. The match was clearly over for the Portuguese team but the defender intentionally lifted his leg in a stomping fashion and drove it into an opposing player. The foul led to no serious consequences for the foulee but the man in question was given a heavy fine and was banned for several matches.
So what should Taylor get? Suspension, yes. A fine? Not really. The manner in which the tackle came is very standard (although its end result wasn't) and if we're going to fine people for this then we might as well all play wearing full armor made of synthetic materials that allow your body to bend every which way you want. Case in point, soccer is as much a contact sport as basketball, rugby, and even football is. Fouls are given in all these games at varying degrees. You are forewarned that stepping into the big stage may cost you your health at any point in the 90 minute window of a game. I will not pass judgment on this and I do not take enjoyment in another man's pain. I'm personally well aware of the ramifications that certain injuries to the human body can have. I can only hope that 21st century medicine (and money) will be able to help Eduardo get back on the field but I hope the footballing community can come to a consensus on this and realize that fouls happen in every game and people often get hurt, and sometimes incidents occur with no foul to claim responsibility for a potentially career-ending injury (i.e. Ronaldo's recent injury). Players should be careful, yes, but not at the expense of the moment, and for that matter, the game. My best wishes to Eduardo and his family and I hope he gets well soon. He's a master at what he does and makes the game pleasing to the eye. And for Taylor, my apologies, this will be tough on you for the rest of your career. We know you're sorry and for some, at least, sometimes that's all that counts.