For those who missed it. . .
It's ironic that only days after I spoke of my loathing for nihilistic football (sports) fans, only days following my condemnation of club supporters who consider fan-hood an entitlement rather than a luxury, Manchester City F.C.'s new star Emmanuel Adebayor (Forward - Togo) disgraced himself, his club, his city, and the sport in his childish antics in Manchester City's 4-2 victory over Arsenal this weekend.
(Watch Video Footage Below)
For those unaware, Adebayor spent four seasons with Arsenal before signing to Manchester City this summer for 25 million pounds. Since his signing, Adebayor has ruthlessly criticized Arsenal and his former fans. In the days leading up to the match, it was obvious that there could be a potential confrontation between Arsenal (fans) and Adebayor.
As it appears, Adebayor consciously "stamped" on the face of Arsenal's Robin Van Persie (Forward - Netherlands) following a Van Persie slide tackle. Van Persie sought medical treatment, before returning to play and, in keeping with both his football skill and athletic character, scored a goal later in the match.
On the official arsenal website, Van Persie issued the following statements:
"He set out to hurt me. I do feel lucky that I have not received a greater injury."
"I have not received an apology from him, there were no words exchanged afterwards. He had his own agenda today and that is bad for football. It's bad for the game we all love."
Adebayor told reporters:
"I was trying to kick the ball. I see him tackling and I don't have time to take my feet back because I'm trying to kick the ball."
"My feet touch his head. I feel sorry for him and even straight away, and at the end of the game, I said sorry."
As for the second part of this story, following Adebayor's head-in goal ('80) he sprinted the length of the pitch and maliciously taunted Arsenal fans, for which the referee issued him a yellow card. Adebayor's celebration infuriated Arsenal fans to the point where they hurled objects on the pitch; one such object incidentally struck a steward, who needed to be taken to a hospital for treatment.
Obviously, the FA are looking into the situation and most rumors are saying that Adebayor will receive a multiple game suspension.
Since starting with Manchester City, Adebayor (and other transfer season signing Carlos Tevez) have made a huge impact. Manchester City is currently third in the Premiership table, but have played one fewer game then the other four top teams. Adebayor has four goals scored in four games played.
I've been a huge fan of Adebayor's talent since becoming a Premiership follower, but his temperament and character is clearly questionable. While I'm routinely quick to give athletes a lot of moral leeway when engaged in competition, athletes often broach a point where playful taunting becomes insidiously disrespectful, where displays of self-pride and inner-celebration become boastful moments of profligacy.
While I do agree with Charles Barkley that athletes don't need to be role models, they do need to be aware that in certain instances, at certain times, athletes themselves transcend their sport, while their sport simultaneously transcends itself. Sports, at times, become more than just a sport, as we all now. In the make of the West Ham United/Millwall anarchy, Adebayor should and needs to be more consciously aware of the repercussions that inciting aggression among football fans can have.
Adebayor's actions were, at best, immature.
Adebayor's punishment should be at two distinct levels: 1) he should be suspended 2-3 games (Manchester City plays 9/20 vs. Manchester United, 9/23 vs. Fulham (Carling Cup), and 9/28 vs. West Ham United) and 2) the Premiership should force Manchester City to, as Juventus had to, play a match behind closed doors -- hence losing ticket revenue for a match.
While its often said that sport builds character, it can be equally discerned that sports are character revealing even at the most elementary of levels. Whereas aggressiveness, egotism, gamesmanship, and, well...cheating, have a place and time (Michael Jordan's foul) in sports, the fabric of sports often exists primarily within the moral compass that it is founded on, that it is played under.
My initial response portrays Adebayor as the sole instigator of the situation that erupted on Saturday, improperly so. It should have been more duly noted that the Arsenal fans behaved similarly childish and are responsible for inciting Adebayor's response. While he clearly escalated the incident to that beyond the acceptable confines of gamesmanship (both among players and fans), the actions of the Arsenal players was disrespectful and disappointing as well.
Footage of the "stamp" in question and Emmanuel Adebayor's goal and subsequent celebration:
See BBC Football story (Here)
See ESPN Soccernet story (Here)
Quotes taken from BBC Football Story