When Football’s Ugly Side Rears its Head

OPINION: I was saddened to see that Ali Abbas was the subject of racial abuse during last weekend’s Sydney derby.

Instead of talking about scoring the all-important third goal after the match, the Iraqi-born Sydney FC left back claimed that Western Sydney’s Brendon Santalab had targeted him with slurs against his religion and culture.

Santalab has denied it, but it is a shame these incidents still flare up in this day and age, especially in such a multicultural country.

In my 17-year career, I have never had any problems with opposing players.

There have been occasional issues with fans, including last year’s away game against Adelaide United.

The saddest thing about that incident was the fact that the man was racially abusing me with many children within earshot.

After an investigation he was found guilty and is currently serving a two-year ban from attending matches.

But, like Abbas, all I was really looking for was an apology.

Sydney have made a formal complaint to Football Federation Australia and an investigation is under way.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out considering people have already spoken out on social media claiming they also heard the slurs.

I watched the game and, seeing a hysterical Abbas having to be restrained by his team-mates, I immediately knew something was amiss.

As for the Phoenix, with five games to play we remain within touching distance of the playoffs.

If we can string some results together we will enter the finals with momentum, which is very important.

Last Sunday’s game ended up being a lot tougher than many expected against a well organised Perth Glory.

We made a scrappy start and a few misplaced passes led to William Gallas justifying his marquee wages with a very nice run and finish.

It looked like being ‘one of those days’ but with 10 minutes remaining the boys took it to the next level and really pushed for an equaliser.

Tyler Boyd put in an excellent cross for Kenny Cunningham, who deserved his goal after an energetic performance.

A draw was not the result we were looking for, but there were many positives.

Roy Krishna was lively in his starting debut, young Matthew Ridenton performed for 90 minutes and Shaun Timmins looked more assured as the game went on.

Unfortunately our left back curse struck again when Josh Brindell-South fell in a hole left by our Hurricanes two nights before.

It was a real shame as Josh seemed to be getting to grips with the position.

Tomorrow we return to Melbourne Heart, who last month inflicted our worst defeat of the season.

But we have already won at Heart this season and the boys will be confident.

On a lighter note, Wednesday was my fiancée, Elle’s, birthday.

On Tuesday she dropped me and my daughter, Romy, in town to go shopping for a present.

While we were off searching, Elle bumped into my team-mate Jeremy Brockie, who was also shopping for a birthday present for his wife, Jess.

Jeremy said he was looking for a new pair of thongs as Jess’ were old and dirty.

Being a good Samaritan, Elle decided to escort him to the closest lingerie store.

Jeremy thanked her for her help.

Off Elle went and Jeremy called me straight away and said ”mate, I need to tell you what’s just happened”.

I had to inform him that in England, thongs are G-strings, while he told me that in Australia thongs are what’s known over here as jandals.

I don’t know who was more embarrassed by the situation, but let’s just say it was lost in translation!

Paul Ifill is a regular contributor to the Dominion Post Football Opinion section on www.stuff.co.nz.