On a day when we learn of the lengthy suspensions handed down to New Orleans Saints players amidst the bounty scandal, here's a palate cleanser of sportsmanship (or, as they like to call it in the soccer world, Fair Play) that took place yesterday in Dubai.
The Asian Champions League match between Iranian side Sepahan and
Saudi team Al Nassr
UAE team al-Nasr had just started the second half when al-Nasr player Helal Saeed became injured. His teammate kicked the ball out to allow him to get medical attention, and Sepahan turned the ball back over to Al Nassr on the throw-in, which is convention. (Sepahan was up 1-0 at the time.)
The craziness came about when an al-Nasr player did not field the ball. It's not clear exactly what happened (nor do we speak the language in this video) but it looks like he didn't know the ball was live. Regardless, a Sepahan player went to get the ball, and the referee called al-Nasr keeper Abdulla Moosa Ali for a foul in the box, giving him a red card and giving Sepahan a penalty kick—all because of a misunderstanding that came about after a player got injured.
The referee wasn't willing to listen to either side's explanation of the affair, and insisted Sepahan take their penalty posthaste. So Omid Ebrahimi used his penalty kick to pass the ball to al-Nasr's replacement keeper Abdulla Abdulghafoor, and the match continued from there. Sepahan would go on to take advantage of the backup, scoring two more goals and securing a 3-0 win. But given the size and importance of the Asian Champions League to squads and the countries from which they hail—and, mind you, this brawl that erupted in last year's AFCCL—we earnestly applaud this kind of sportsmanship. [Persian Football]
h/t to Adam for setting me straight on which al-Nasr it was