CEBU, Philippines – Officials of the Cebu Football Association yesterday looked into the free-for-all that marred the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu-Alcoy FC faceoff in the boys’ U-18 division of the 16th Aboitiz Cup at the Aboitiz field here last Sunday, vowing to punish all those involved in the incident that dealt a major black-eye not only on the local football scene but also in the entire Cebu sports community.
The incident has sparked anger and condemnation, more so after pictures were posted on social media sites showing one spectator who appeared to be holding a key, striking Alcoy FC goalkeeper Rodenel Binolirao Jr. from behind.
“It is most unfortunate that it happened in this beautiful game of football, but it’s something that is beyond our control,” said Atty. Julius Entice, member of the CFA disciplinary committee, in yesterday’s press conference at the CFA office.
Entice said the CFA conducted a series of meetings right after the incident. According to witnesses, SHS-AdC was ahead, 3-1, when tensions rose due to trash-talking from both sides and after game officials called several fouls and issued yellow cards.
Binolirao and an SHS-AdC player then wrestled with one another, triggering the brawl. Punches were thrown and a full-blown fight ensued all over the field with a player from Alcoy allegedly getting ganged up after he accidentally ran towards the Ateneo bench.
At the 37th minute of the first half, Mon Ferdinand Osorio of Alcoy FC was whistled for a foul against Thirdy Pepito of SHS-Ateneo, who in turn made a provocative gesture. When the referee intervened, Osorio allegedly punched an Ateneo player.
A fight ensued, then a man from the bench of Alcoy FC stormed onto the field and hit four Ateneo players, prompting a number of Ateneo players to strike back, triggering the free-for-all.
Entice said Alcoy FC coach Chris Nino delos Santos expressed deep regrets over the incident but stressed sanctions must be slapped on erring parties.
“We are not only looking at the culpability of the players, but also the conduct of the coaches because they are the ones who have direct control and supervision to their teams,” said Entice.
“We are continuing our investigation and rest assured that sanctions will be made on all persons involved,” he added. – Emmanuel Villaruel/Freeman News Service