‘Foul Songgo’ should be stopped

EMOTIONAL. Players of the South team including the player with a bandaged head are just too happy to win the Cagayan de Oro Athletic Association (COAA) football title after a grueling and action packed match against long time rival West 1. (photo by Jack Biantan)

by Jack Biantan

SEVERAL years ago an Indonesian striker Akli Fairuz of Persiraja FC died of an internal injury after the match in the Indonesian Premier League. He died in the hospital several days after he received a horror tackle from their opponent’s goalkeeper Agus Rahman of PSAP FC.
Last week, another player, Indonesia’s celebrated goalkeeper Choiraul Huda died after a head on collision with a team mate during an Indonesian Super League match. Both incidents are un-intentional of course. The goalkeeper was trying to protect the ball and hit the the striker on the body. The blow was so strong that it raptured his bladder causing his untimely dead.
The other casualty was caused by two team mates clashing heads while trying to secure the football.
Both incidents show how dangerous the beautiful game is when the players, referee, and officials do not care to protect the players or themselves during matches.
I watched the CdO Division meet championship clash between South District and West 1 District last Sunday and oh boy, it was pulsating action and a battle from start to finish. The no ending rivalry between the West 1 boys and the South lads once again showed on the pitch as if the end of the world was near.
It was action packed and dirty. There were also plenty of injuries and both sides were guilty of dishing the dirty plays. The worst injury was suffered by West 1 defender Stephen Baitan, who suffered a deep gash above his forehead after a collision with a South District forward.
Baitan’s injury needed some stitches and luckily he got out of the hospital ok. The South District lad also suffered a gash but it was not as big as what Baitan suffered. He was substituted, covered his gash with plaster and later on managed to lineup for a photo op after they won the penalty shootout.
It could have been a beautiful match of a beautiful game had it not for the referee taking the ‘Foul Songgo’ attitude. ‘Foul Songgo’ is a Bisaya sport slang where the referee refuses to call dirty fouls. Songgo is a Bisaya word meaning nosebleed. So, the term really means that the referee will never call a foul unless he sees the player bleeding from his nose.
There were just too many missed fouls where the referee just shouted ‘play on’. Believe it or not the referee managed to pull out just one yellow card the entire match. There were several instances where forwards would tackle goalkeepers and the referee would just say ‘play on’. The lines men were also blind. No body saw why West 1 Val Alvin Orate just suddenly fell over and was clutching his right rib cage. I did not see it as I was far. But the lineman on that side should have seen it.
Orate did not continue playing and was substitute while his parent comforted him at the side. He said later on that someone sneaked an elbow to his side.
Our referees need refresher courses and change their attitudes. It was a very wise decision for the Department of Education and the tournament manager to stop the match and go for a penalty shootout with very few minutes remaining in the regulation.
The referee failed to control the match and the young players were just too happy trying to kill each other. Luckily no one died. Had the referee pull out three yellow cards or a red card, it could have been a better match.
Players are not scared of their coaches, and even their opponents during the match. They are scared of a referee who does not hesitate to punish them with yellow and red cards. Remember referees, you are ‘God Almighty’ on the pitch. Then do your job as ‘God’. (l.biantan@gmail.com)

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