Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oi vey. (updated)

What else is there to say? If you don't know what I'm talking about, here it is from tonight's KNVB Cup match at Amsterdam ArenA: the hooligan field invasion that spawned the red card to AZ keeper Estaban Alvarado that made Gertjan pull his team off that saw this contest suspended with Ajax up 1-0 a few minutes before intermission.

UPDATE: One video with everything. And I can now clearly see the man comes from behind the section for disabled folks and their families, which is opposite from the big Ajax supporter sections that take up most of the far end.

Ajax - AZ Alkmaar Maçında Skandal door ulusal_portal

So... how do we sort this mess out, and more importantly, how does the Dutch federation do the same? Let's break it down chronologically, just for ease.

The dude that started all this, already identified by police as a drunk 19-year old troublemaker (duh!), will get a lifetime stadium ban and some unpleasant arrest charges. While security was out there quickly after the initial player-shocking shame to his family clash, Ajax are no doubt in line for a fine. I'm told he came from the area behind the handicapped section and not from the F-Side end. If that's correct, then it will be a hefty penalty to pay because there's really no excuse to have let some drunk loon stumble that far across nice disabled folks and their families enjoying a nice match. Thats's it for the easy part.

As for Alvarado, he clearly takes three pops at the guy. The initial is clearly self-defense (pretty alert stuff, to be frank) and I suspect he may have gotten away with the second swat as a moment-heat reaction. Continuing to menace a guy on the ground for the third kick made it very difficult for the referee to not send him off, which is the usual standard for the "excessive violence" mentioned in his game report to the KNVB.

Maybe he'll appeal (and who knows, maybe he could even win a slight victory), but it stands to reason that he probably has a fine and further suspension coming. I'm not going to look down on him personally because I can't talk about what it's like to be attacked in this particular shocking manner; he may have crossed the line, but it's not by very much to my mind.

Next, we have good ol' Gertjan Verbeek (sigh). What to do, what to do?

I honestly do appreciate the gesture from his viewpoint - even if to my mind, Earnie Stewart and the club chairman dutifully played a little spin in backing the manager's move to usher his players out of the game as mere concern for their safety. However, it would seem safe to say that he's gonna get in trouble for it. I will stop just short of saying he deserves to - honorable dishonorables do exist in life.

But look: you can't see the very start of it on this clip, but less than 10 seconds passes from the emergence of the red card to Verbeek personally ushering his charges off the field. There was no ushering until that time and everybody saw it. So that also almost takes care of itself on evidence.

Finally, the small matter of a round of 16 game. This could go all sorts of ways. Go ahead and imagine any earth-feasible possibility you can dream up for how to decide this tie, and it's probably on that orange table right now. I really hope neither of these clubs is saddled with a loss out of this madness.

What would I do if commish? To me, it seems like the fairest way to sorta remove this idiot's dumbass-print on this match seems pretty obvious. They should resume the game from the time of suspension in an empty Amsterdam ArenA, pick it up 1-0 Ajax with AZ down a man. Outside the chalk, Ajax is hit with a decent security lapse fine, while Verbeek sits the remainder and the following cup game for the Cheese Farmers - whenever that may be.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go wash my brain.

- Greg Seltzer


dikranovich said...

i think the coach did the right thing, i mean, from the video, and in all honesty, that AZ goalkeeper could have trounced on that fan. the keeper even looked ready to take on the security, but he saw who it was and he held back. you have to think this red card is going to be recinded ajax will recieve a fine and whatever. smart move by the coach though. continuing on with this game would not have been fair to az akmmar.

Jay said...

Yeah, I'd have done the same thing. While I recognize that the letter of the law says the 'keeper gets a red card, it's complete bullshit that an Ajax fan gets to pull that shit and AZ get punished for it. I'd pull my team, and then I'd have gone to the press and told them exactly why. Kudos to Verbeek for taking the principled stand.

Greg Seltzer said...

Principled stands generally cost something. And I'm not sure why Ajax as a team should be punished for what one non-fan does in a drunken stupor when they're winning a game.

dikranovich said...

greg, just so we have full disclosure, you are an ajax fan, correct? what happen to pirrana filled moats around the field?

Greg Seltzer said...

Yes, I am - which means I'm fully prepared for this to go very wrong in the ruling.

I did, however, allow my club card to lapse a loooong while back. I mainly held it for better preference ranking in ticket sales. Just seemed proper to do with my job and I can always manage a ticket somehow if needed.

Jay said...

Yeah, principled stands do cost something. I'm fine with that, and I bet Verbeek is too. But I also think that the letter of the law in this instance is bullshit: I don't think a card should be issued for retaliating against a pitch invader who tackles you. Go ahead: call me crazy.

In that spirit I'd hope (but certainly don't expect) that the red card be rescinded and play resumed from the point of stoppage, with Verbeek watching from home.

Greg Seltzer said...

Clearly, there must be a line of retaliation. As that line currently sits in soccer, he will be judged. If he crossed the line and other players were ejected for it, seems like he would be also.

Whether that's correct or not is another layer, but my guess on the ruling is he may not have a great chance in any appeal setting.

Jeffrey said...

It seems to me that if your fan(s) attack a player and the player is red carded, it's worth doing strategically. Obviously I don't think Ajax did this, but the red card seems untenable to me from that perspective.

Greg Seltzer said...

Well, if it wasn't done strategically this time, I fail to see the sense or fairness in punishing the team for all possible future incidents of a similar nature anywhere.

The referee judged that he went too far and they are pouring over it all. I'm all but defending Alvarado and Verbeek here, but they are not over having their actions examined.

If you want to get into hypotheticals, one spectator idiot should not have the power to single-handedly eliminate a team from cup play, as that could also theoretically become a strategy.

dikranovich said...

if the fan had run out on the field and tossed one of his many ajax fanboy jerseys at the keeper, and then the keeper trounced, the red card would have been warranted, as it was, this fan came out with a kung fu kick and that is just too much. common sense must prevail here.

Greg Seltzer said...

In my opinion, common sense includes a line the player can't cross in retaliation - going exaggerated extreme silly, obviously he cannot shove a nuclear weapon in the ear. I won't be bothered if the red card is rescinded, but it deserves scrutiny.

So if there is a line there somewhere, then they will all get together and reach some agreement on how it will shake out. They're Dutch, the answer to everything is discussion.

Jeffrey said...

I appreciate your point of view about an unknown future, but I feel like you're conflating punishment and advantage. I see the precedent of the red card as being very advantageous to home sides who are responsible for security. I agree that there is a line of violence, but I don't think the keeper crossed it.

dikranovich said...

with the protester being the person of the year, the pictures from this game cant help but remind me of what we have been seeing around the world over the past year. this scene however was not egyptians being beaten by the police, this was a home fan who attacked a player, during a game.

to me, the keeper did show restraint in not attacking the security officer and it was this act, which will probably, ultimately lead to his being found innocent of the charges.

Connor Walsh said...

I'm sorry but the FIFA Laws of the Game make no mention of defending yourself against attack from potentially a dangerous person. The man could've had a knife or other weapon, and I believe Esteban was in his full right to neutralize the threat until security arrived. Had he stopped kicking him, the hooligan could've got up and attacked again.

The ref needs a reality check. If I were Esteban, I'd have beaten the man senseless before ever allowing him to get back up. I'm not sure on self defense law in the Netherlands, but the hooligan was clearly the aggressor, and here in the States you can legally defend yourself until the threat is neutralized or until the aggressor flees.

Rule of Law should trounce the Laws of the Game all day long, hopefully some common sense is shown here.

sean said...

If players get red cards for responding after being attacked in a game more drunk fans may do the same to help their team. Will drunkards rush onto.the field after messi, ronaldo, van persie, etc? If messi were to react in the same way would get a red card? I dont think the.goalie's reaction is excessive violence. The could have a knife, etc. look at what happened to monica seles. The goalie didnt pull a cantona and go into the stands. He was playing a game, its absurd he'd be lunished for.this.

Marc said...

If you notice, the pitch invader doesn't stop trying to attack the keeper even after he is on the ground. Granted the keeper is at an advantage being the one standing, but the "fan" takes just as many kicks at the goalie from the ground as the goalie gave him, so the goalie could argue he was still defending himself. Also, if someone tried to attack me, I would fight back until he no longer was a threat, exactly as the goalie did in stopping once security got there.

Joosey said...

The keep did show a lot of restraint in not kicking the fan's head off. No way the red was justified. An attack like that leaves only a spit second to react and the keep instinctually defended his physical well being.

Interesting side note, it looked like Jozy didn't want to come off the field.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Connor: The FIFA Rules of the Game is not where this rule comes from, surely.

And rule of law cannot make a competitive decision for a sport. You know this.

Preserve Vintage said...

Greg, as thoughtful as you seem to be, your "logic" can sometimes be dumbfounding.

tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tom said...

Well said, Greg.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Preserve: Which piece of logic is dumbfounding?

by the way, I misspoke earlier, as the referee referred to the Rules of the Game, citing "violent conduct" as reason for ejection. And it has precedent, which some people now wish to throw out especially for AZ.

I've said that I won't quarrel with the actions of Alvarado or Verbeek. But let's be clear: Ajax did not pull players off the pitch and refuse to continue at the sight of a red card they deemed unfair. Verbeek did not pull anyone off until precisely then, so he can go on all he wants spinning his action - that's his job.

Despite this posturing, I see no reason why AZ should deserve the moon from this. When does anyone ask if Verbeek would have pulled them off UP 1-0?

I am seeing both sides and have no interest in any unfair advantage gained out of it for anyone, my team or not. I'm embarrassed by this all and my first concern is the integrity of the actual game.

Preserve Vintage said...

@ Greg: Whether it was two, three, or if he had kicked him a fourth time, it doesn't matter. He was attacked, had no time to process what was going on, and was most likely fearing for his life. When security finally comes to the scene, Alvarado almost punches the guy in the gray coat b/c he doesn't know what is going on and is fearing that he's still being attacked.

Imagine working a desk job. Out of nowhere, some vagrant breaks into your office and tries to attack you. In the process of the attack, you kick him three times as you try to protect yourself, figure out what is happening and if your life is at risk, etc. Upon hearing the commotion, others come to the scene and the assailant is detained.

Would you be reprimanded or suspended from your job for kicking someone who attacked you three times?

The word 'menace' can be used to depict the actions involved, but you're using it for the wrong individual.

Greg Seltzer said...

I'll take this chopped up into sections if you don't mind...

"Whether it was two, three, or if he had kicked him a fourth time, it doesn't matter. He was attacked, had no time to process what was going on, and was most likely fearing for his life. When security finally comes to the scene, Alvarado almost punches the guy in the gray coat b/c he doesn't know what is going on and is fearing that he's still being attacked."

I fully agree with all you say about his perspective, but let's not remove all responsibility of choice from the player straight off the top. At some point, it does matter, and thus the referee and now KNVB must determine this point because that's their job.

I think your best, most crystal-ized point would recognize that the security was not so much "finally" out there. They chased him the whole way (and it's a bit of a run where he came from), arriving only a few seconds after the invader. That would be Alvarado's best defense: that it all happened so fast, a few seconds of sudden confusion.

Judging from the short timeframe, the distance, the surprise of it, security guys probably in their 30's had to beat a teenager on a sprint. That's the reality, and the sudden shock of it would probably be my defense if put in this place.

"Imagine working a desk job. Out of nowhere, some vagrant breaks into your office and tries to attack you... "

Let me just stop you here. We have an actual situation to discuss. Let's leave imagination running to the Temptations.

"The word 'menace' can be used to depict the actions involved, but you're using it for the wrong individual."

Can it not conceivably be both, in order? Does Alvarado suddenly have free license to go as berzerk as he'd like?

Ya know... I get the suspicion a couple people may wonder if I'm being biased or colored by the fact that Ajax is my club. It makes sense to consider, I don't begrudge the thought over it. But I would then probably ask these friends why they all happened to come down so fervently on Jozy's AZ side with their own personal "rulings" of what should happen now.

If I felt Ajax deserved to lose this game or whatever, I'd gladly say so. And if they rescind Alvarado's red card to resume the game as it halted, you won't hear a peep out of me. I'm just glad somebody else has to make these decisions because it's a real layer cake of crap to deal with - some of it is very straightforward, some of it is more grey.

Greg Seltzer said...

I'll admit to one bias as an Ajax supporter: I cringe every time I read him described as "an Ajax fan" because true Ajax fans would all tell you that this person was no such thing. Amsterdam hates this guy right now, we all feel he has potentially cost us success on the field and soiled our name, all blasphemy around here.

Preserve Vintage said...

@ Greg: Of course there's a line for retaliation, but I don't think Alvarado comes close to it. A drunk/maniac attacked him, and he shouldn't be punished because he chose not to wait and see if the attacker was going to get up and do it again.

And I must have missed the lesson on all analogies being baseless, but some people seem like they might need the help of a little perspective.(inane music reference to illustrate my cool detachment and artistic sensibilities)

Preserve Vintage said...

and apologies for the tone.

Jay said...

In case there's any misunderstanding, I'm not taking my position just because it's AZ. I'd feel the same if the roles were reversed -- no player should ever get penalized for taking out an asshole pitch invader, whether it's a streaker or someone with an actual intent to harm. I know there's precedent, but I feel like it's bullshit. There's a game to be played.

Some while back a video circulated of a player who was given a red card for tripping some tool who was running around the pitch. The guy dropped to the ground and the cops were able to haul him off, but the 'keeper was ejected. That was bullshit, and I was just as peeved at that ruling as I am at this one.

(Though let's be frank: it's easy to be pissy on the internet when there's a little text window you can type in semi-anonymously.)

Greg: I recognize your ability to be objective, and I do not think your club loyalties are tilting your opinion.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Preserve:

I take no bother from your tone. As for your analogy, you kinda forgot one super duper important aspect of the metaphor - the game. Frankly, that's the one thing I'm most concerned with being harmed.

Preserve Vintage said...

@ Greg: Nope, I didn't forget about the game. That's actually my point in making an analogy to something outside of the game. A fan attacking a player means that the player's actions of self-defense shouldn't affect the game.

Greg Seltzer said...

Let's again be clear: Verbeek can say what he wants, but there is video to show that he did not pull anyone anywhere until the red card flashed. We also know his side was down 1-0.

Therefore, I am inclined to feel that Verbeek taking his players home slightly affected "the game", as well.

I'm perfectly fine with the red card having been rescinded, but I'm not going to find justice done to the game if Ajax loses outside precedent because one fully delusional out-of-town hood went berzerk on a drunken bet.