Limpag: UV’s lifeline

Mike T. Limpag

IN ALL my years of watching fooball with officials in the sidelines, I’ve noticed that players do tend to think they can get away with some things and that the referees don’t see them.

But that’s not really the case most of the time. While the center ref, and the crowd, have their eyes on the action, the fourth official checks for off-ball action.

“Tanawa nang duha ay, nagsugod na sad,” is a comment usually thrown my way when two players get too physical away from the ball.

And here’s why some players think they get away. Sometimes, the fourth official calls the ref’s attention, but oftentimes, a simple hand and eye signal between the two can relay the message from the fourth, “Pay attention to the two” or from the ref, “I got it.” Sometimes even, the linesman already knows what the fourth guy has in mind when he stands and simply says, “I got this.” Getting no reprimand, they think they weren’t seen.

When Zinedine Zidane got red carded for that off ball head butt in the World Cup final in 2006, the French coach accused the fourth referee that he didn’t see the incident and that he merely saw it when it was played in the stadium’s large screen projectors. That wasn’t true, of course.

So when the coaches and players questioned the red cards handed out during the University of the Visayas and the University of Southern Philippines brawl, I gave the referees the benefit of the doubt. UV team captain Kenneth Vargas, one of the most fun players to watch in the league, questioned his red card, saying he was never near the action.

Aside from what the referees saw, tournament director Francis Ramirez said they reviewed the footage of the CCTV that covered the incident and they saw the UV captain approach the referees in a threatening manner twice. So, he wasn’t exactly innocent. Aside from Vargas, Mon Osorio of UV, Jordan Quinicot, Mark Dave Ordiales and Jeralph Tura of USPF got a one match ban coupled with a P5,000 fine and a four-hour community service that will be carried out next year. A P10,000 fine for both teams is also imposed for clearing the bench.

UV coach Alex Ballesteros drew the heaviest penalty and got a lifetime ban.

Now, how do we move on from this? Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy opened a door for Ballesteros by saying his decision can be appealed, provided the appeal comes after 24 hours and that it is co-signed by a Cesafi board of director.

That is significant because under the PFF Catalogue of Punishment, a penalty for a walkout is not subject for an appeal and I don’t remember the volleyball coaches getting such chance.

I hope Ballesteros grabs this lifeline given by the commish. Show some remorse and regret and ask for leniency. I hope Mayor Samsam Gullas, too, will give coach Alex another chance should he get such from the commissioner. Most of those that I talked with agree with me, he has done wonders with the UV program in the past three years and the only blight was that lapse in judgment in the final 15 minutes against USPF.