Sydney FC won the Derby, but one incident in many won the headlines.
Ali Abbas’ accusation that a Western Sydney Wanderers player had racially abused him hogged it all, placing it above the enthralling 90 minutes that preceded it, played in front of one of the best atmosphere’s anyone has ever seen in Australia. In any sport.
Sitting in the Fox Sports studios, we couldn’t quite believe it when Abbas, still wound up and with angry emotion coursing through every vein, said what he did.
His religon and where he’s from had been sullied. Allegedly.
As much as you can know someone from meeting them a couple of times, Ali Abbas is an engaging character who is never too far from breaking into a full-face grin.
That’s off the pitch.
On the pitch he fights like few others do, and when things get him riled, he can lose it. Thank goodness Sasa Ognenovski was out there to act as security otherwise Ali’s red mist would have resulted in a red card.
(On that, can we get Sash to organise security for next season on in the A-League? Just a thought…)
Anyway, his demeanour has undertaken a whole different context since his post-game interview.
Sydney put in the official complaint so let the investigation begin.
As much as I love a good story, and good journalism, hopefully this all plays out the way it should – two people sitting down face to face to thrash it out, and if a resolution can’t be found, an independent expert in such matters can establish the truth.
Of course, the media will look delve a little deeper than that to expose the truth beforehand. The old default setting “Soccer’s Night of Shame” got a run over the weekend, but last time I checked, things like this happen when you’re driving, crossing the road, in a pub, out with your kids, playing rugby league, AFL, rugby union, ping pong, even chess.
There’s an allegation out there, and football is part of the big wide world, so it has to face up to it. And will.
Hopefully, the winner in all of this will be the process the game has in place, because it’s about to be tested to the limit.
But aside from that, no-one will emerge from this whole thing feeling victorious.