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Brazilian players rejoice after winning
third straight world championship

Brazil Wins Third Straight
World Championship

Ref Stops Tainted Match
With Time Remaining


At its best amputee soccer is a testament to the human spirit.

The game demonstrates, beyond any doubt, that life not only goes on after injury or loss, but also that the highest levels of skill, achievement, camaraderie, recognition and respect can be attained.

For the most part this year's tournament lived up to the best in sports expectations.

But the final match in this year's Amputee Soccer World Championship fell somewhat short of the ideal.

It was, in fact, the most unlovely world championship match in memory.

The trouble began in the first period.

With Brazil leading 1-0 before more than 2,000 home town fans in 102F Brazilian heat, Brazilian star Fernando 'Pit Bull' Maldonado and the Russian goal keeper Ramazanov received matching yellow cards.

They accepted those cards and continued play with no further contention.

Events began to unravel badly in the second, when Ramazanov misplayed a long Brazilian kick on goal.

Rather than dropping to his feet, the ball skittered off the Russian goalkeeper's chest and rolled out of the box. The goaler followed the ball out of the box and kicked it clear.

Since the action was clearly NOT an issue of momentum, English referee David Davies immediately stopped play and issued the Russian his second yellow card of the match.

Two yellows equal a red - and pandemonium.

Brazil's 44-year-old Bartolomeu Araujo allowed only two goals in the seven game tournament.

During the ensuing heated arguments, the Russian goalkeeper laid hands on the British ref and was ejected - to the delight of the local fans. Fans who, sadly enough, were being incited to jeer the send-off by several Brazilian players on the field.

That unsporting act, in what had been a thoroughly competitive and sportsmanlike tournament, went unchecked, and undoubtedly contributed to the further degredation of the match.

Shortly after play resumed Brazilian Defender Ademir Cruz de Almeida, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, slammed a shot past the replacement Russian goalkeeper.

The Russian team seemed visibly deflated, but with plenty of time remaining, fought back for pride and a goal.

The final blow came at the 17th minute when the red-carded Russian goalkeeper Ramazanov stepped onto the field of play to protest a call. Referee Davies motioned him back to the bench several times, but the player would not yield.

As Davies reached for his penalty cards again, another Russian player kicked the referee in the groin area dropping him to the ground.

Good sportsmanship among players was by far the rule in this year's tournament

Recovering from the assault, Davies stopped the match with eight minutes remaining.

The Brazilians had won their third straight world championship.

For their part, the vast majority of the Russian players retained their poise in the face of the relentless, sometimes jeering Brazilian fans, and accepted their Silver Medals with grace and dignity.

It was an unlovely match. Both the players and the fans deserved a Gold Medal match as brilliantly and as cleanly played as the first match between England and Brazil.

And hopefully the International Amputee Football Federation and the Russian Football Federation will take the necessary steps to ensure future matches are decided by goals for and against, and not aberrant behavior on the pitch.
 



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