Referee Jordan Silva issued Josenir Santo Abreu a red card during a soccer match in a northern Brazil village last week. A red card means a player has been ejected from the game. Abreu did not take his punishment well. A heated argument between the two turned into a fight. This resulted in Silva pulling out a knife and stabbing Abreu in the chest.
Yes, a referee stabbed a player in the chest on the field of play.
Abreu’s family and other angry fans cornered Silva and tied him up as the mortally wounded player was rushed to the hospital. Abreu died before reaching a nearby medical center. Word quickly got back to his family who still had the offending referee tied up. The angry mob, which included Abreu’s family and some fans, took revenge on Silva. They stoned him to death and dismembered his body.
Yes, a player’s family and a group of fans stoned a referee to death and cut his body into pieces.
And everything from the stabbing to the stoning to the dismemberment took place on the field of play.
The culture of sports is worsening and we must do something about it. This type of behavior can no longer be ignored. Violence has become ingrained in sports and it must be removed. I’m not talking about a tackle in football or a takedown in wrestling, either.
No one should ever be in danger of being stabbed, stoned, shot, beaten or dismembered at a sporting event. It’s not just about respecting the game anymore. It’s about respecting each other as human beings. Participants in sport are treating each other more like enemies than opponents. Referees are authority figures – not authoritarian figures.
The reward of sport is greater than this incident and others like it. We must again lift the mantle of respect, integrity and civility or be crushed under the weight of selfishness, violence and apathy.