The Football Spectator speaks out

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014


THE pictures of Sun.Star Cebu photojournalist Allan Cuizon caught the story. Even with little text, the pictures of an adult beating a goalie who was headlocking another player told a sidelight of the match between Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu and Alcoy FC during the16th Aboitiz Football Cup last Sunday.

The sidelight became the story.

The adult got an opinion-flogging for his action since Sun.Star Cebu ran the photos Monday and Superbalita, Tuesday. Sun.Star Cebu posted a photo sequence of the violence on Facebook. The post has 1,911 shares as I write.

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There was little sympathy for the adult, who was not a parent to either player. He was a spectator whose son plays for SHS-AdC and was playing in the match. The spectator's name is Enrico Mongaya, a 41-year-old father of two. He is with the customs police.

I haven't met him but I got his mobile number from sources. A friend who has talked to him a few times was taken aback upon learning what Enrico did. She said he never came across as brusque.

Enrico and I exchanged text messages as I asked for his side. I do not condone what he did but I found some comments unfair to him. Many of those who gave unfair comments were not there when it happened.

He begged off last Tuesday from giving public statements as he was still consulting a lawyer. We would have met in person yesterday but he reconsidered. A written statement would better put his thoughts in order, he said.

His lawyer, Ram Villagonzalo, emailed me Enrico's brief statement yesterday afternoon.

Over the phone last night, I ran the statement through with Enrico. He had never spoken to the media and he was all jittery.

He said in his statement that "neither did he desire nor feel happy" about what happened and that he is "exerting all efforts for reconciliation."

As a father whose son plays a high-contact sport, he knows how football is played and how a heated match can escalate into a frenzy. Many times he has watched his son play.

When he saw JM Kwan, his son's teammate and a godson, being "headlocked/choked" by Alcoy FC's goalie Rodenel Binolirao Jr., a player bigger than Kwan, he ran to Kwan's rescue "preventing further harm or eventual death of JM," Enrico said.

It was not his son involved but he did what a parent would do: save the kid. It was instinctive and in the heat of the scuffle, things turned violent.

That he is open to a "reconciliation" with the parties involved indicates he is sorry for what happened. He is a parent and wouldn't want to see his son in either position: being headlocked or being banged on the head by someone else's father.

A parent of the SHS-AdC team who watched the game and saw what happened came to the defense of Enrico.

"Of course many skeptics would think that the means employed by the godparent was uncalled for but we also remember that the incident happened so fast that the godparent did not have time to reflect on his actions as all he had in that instance was the sight of his godson in terrible danger," the unnamed parent said in a text message.

In Enrico's hand that he used to hit goalie Binolirao was a black solid object that had something pointed or bladed protruding from it. Binolirao's head bled from the blows.

"In conclusion it is always the parents' instincts to save their children in danger and the attacker should always bear the consequences of his acts.

I believe no parent would want to see their children being punched or choked down to the floor," the parent said.

The Cebu Football Association (CFA) has meted out sanctions against certain players of both teams but it will review the pictures before it decides on the fate of spectator Enrico.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 20, 2014.

Opinion

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