Within a 90 minute football match, emotions can run high and lead to unsavoury incidents. The desire to win every match and the pressure placed on the players by coaching teams, fans and other players can lead to some heated exchanges and off the ball incidents.
During a recent women’s match between Salt Lake City East High School and Wood Cross High, emotions got the best of defender Petiola Manu. When Makenzie Clark tumbled to the ground following another challenge, Manu saw her opportunity to get back at Clark for a previous incident and she proceeded to knee her in the face as she attempted to get back up. The referee missed the drama so no action was taken, but the whole episode was caught on film by a parent on the sidelines. Clark was taken off the pitch by her teammates, unable to continue, as parents vented their anger towards the referee and Manu. Manu, to her credit, did apologize after the game to Clark saying “I let my emotions get the best of me and I took it too far. And I just want to apologize to (Makenzie) and everyone. I’m sorry”
The press was quick to condemn Manu and raise the red flag about the growing trend of player violence in the game which at times has led to calls for the involvement of local law enforcement. But the truth is that today’s game is not anymore competitive than in years gone by. Quite simply put, we live in a society where every angle and every second is caught on camera, whether from television, video cameras, or mobile phones. This incident would have gotten little traction if it wasn’t for one parent filming her child’s game, witnessing the “attack” and then posting it on YouTube for the whole world to see.
These types of incidents have been a part of football for decades and although no one will agree that they are justified, it is a part of the game that we struggle to control. Anyone who believes that the game is getting more aggressive or violent now should watch any of the hundred games that feature the infamous Leeds team in the early 1970s, starring Bremner (above), Hunter and Clarke. Their brand of football made the challenge by Manu look like a gentle tap on the face.
To see the Manu/Makenzie incident, watch the clip on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSHwMTpqydQ&feature=related