International soccer fans are some of the most passionate in the world. Unfortunately, that can often mean that competitive matches can turn ugly and sometimes even violent. In fact, we’re less than three months removed from the tragic Egyptian match that erupted in violence and cost over 70 people their lives.
Thankfully, two teams proved on Tuesday that it’s not all bad in the world of soccer.
In a match between Iranian club Sepahan and al-Nasr of the United Arab Emirates, sportsmanship shined through in a misunderstanding that could have decided the game.
Just after halftime, al-Nasr defender Helal Saeed was injured and in need of treatment. A teammate quickly put the ball out of bounds so trainers could attend to Saeed. After the treatment, Sepahan followed a soccer custom and intentionally returned possession to al-Nasr.
Unfortunately, the al-Nasr defender who received the ball did not understand that it was live and in play. He let the ball roll past him, allowing Sepahan forward Xhevahir Sukaj to gain possession and charge toward net. Understandably confused, al-Nasr keeper Abdulla Moosa Ali flailed at the ball. In doing so, Ali earned himself a red card and granted Sepahan a penalty kick.
Despite both teams pleading with the referee to change his call, Sepahan was forced to take the shot.
Yet instead of letting rip and extending his team’s 1-0 lead, Omid Ebrahimi simply passed the ball gently to back up al-Nasr keeper Abdulla Abdulghafoor.
Sepahan still benefitted from the presence of a second string goalie in net, and ultimately won the match 3-0. Nevertheless, both teams come out as clear winners after their incredible demonstration of sportsmanship.
To see the confusion and camraderie play out, check out the video below.