Sunday, November 05, 2017
Bambang Responds To Disallowed Goal Controversy
Bambang Pamungkas holds a unique position in the football pantheon. He is perhaps the one player respected across the length and breadth of the 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia. Bepe, as he is nicknamed, is Indonesia's Mohammed Saleh, Omar Abdulrahman, George Best, Franz Beckanbauer. He is perhaps the only footballer a humble noodle vendor or a western educated high flying businessman might recognise.
He is intelligent, articulate and cares deeply about the game. He works with the players union, APPI, trying to educate players about their rights and responsibilities to the game and their employers as well as how to negotiate the tricky world of contracts.
Bambang posts videos of him playing the piano and gives cookery tips, a passion of his. Yep, he is not your usual footballer. Hell, I have even spoken to Persib supporters who said they would welcome him should he ever forsake the Persija orange for the Bandung blue; he wouldn't out of respect to the Persija support who have cheered him for some 15 years.
And now Bambang has got caught up in the controversey surrounding the recent meeting between the two bitter foes. For when Chad striker Ezechiel N''Douassel scored what he felt was a perfectly good goal, the net rippled(!), Bambang had a good view of the event. As Persib celebrated video evidence seems to show Bambang hurrying to the centre circle as if he felt it was a goal.
The ref of course disallowed the goal and irate Persib fans took to social media to complain Bambang should have done the sporting thing and told the ref that in his view yes it was a goal. It would still have been down to the Australian referee to make a decision of course but at least, so went the Bobotoh thinking, Bambang could have made a stand.
Bambang has since written a post explaining why he didn't take any action in the cauldron of a feisty derby and full credit to him for doing so. Not many players would do the same but then not many players share the highest pedastal with him.
What we need to do is accept there are two Bambangs. The one many in football would like him to be, that rare voice of sanity in an asylum where it seems too often the lunatics have taken charge. Many, and I include myself, are crying out for someone untainted to rise from the dressing room and cast his purity over the game, magically ending match-fixing allegations, giving succor to honest match officials and telling errant supporters to put away their parangs.
And then there is a Bambang who plays for a football club and is trying to win every game he plays in for his employer and his supporters. The difference is so great any bridging is unlikely but it is to Bambang's credit, and an indication of the respect people across football have for him, they feel he is the one to speak up when injustice occurs.
In his post Bambang asks whether any Persib player would have tried to convince the ref the goal was valid had the roles been reversed. Had for example the game was being played in Bandung, there were no Persija fans present, the visitors had been taken to the game inside an armoured personnel carrier. If, for example, Bruno Lopes had scored for Persija and the ref disallowed it, as the home support rejoiced would an Atep or a Hariono have approached the ref and said, sorry mate you got it wrong?
Bambang goes on to suggest any person brave enough to have confronted the ref, risking the ire of his team mates and supporters, and said the goal was good would be possessed of wings and worthy of a FIFA Fair Play Award. 'Last time I checked, unfortunately I am still human' said the 37 year old striker.
Yes sir, you are still human. As is Paolo di Canio. The firey Italian was playing for West Ham United and with the Everton goalkeeper on the ground after failing to clear the ball and twisting his knee, was presented with an opportunity to score. Instead he caught the ball and gestured to the injured keeper suggesting he receive treatment. He was rewarded with a bollocking from his manager in the dressing room, worldwide praise for his actions and the FIFA Fair Play Award. And no one is suggesting di Canio is an angel!
As a footballing romantic I would like to have seen Bambang at least do the honourable thing. But as an Arsenal fan, had one of our players told the match officials a Spurs goal, which had been disallowed, was good I know I wouldn't be praising his honesty.