In the 94th minute of Tuesday’s Qatari Stars Cup semifinal between Al-Gharafa and Al-Arabi, Nene confronted the referee after receiving his second yellow card of the game. However, Al-Arabi midfielder Houssine Kharja, formerly of Italian club Fiorentina, put himself in between Nene and the referee to squelch the standoff.
After a few seconds of being pushed around, the frustrated Nene couldn’t restrain himself any longer and struck the defenseless Kharja in the back of the head with his fist.
Both teams’ benches cleared shortly after the dastardly punch, and a full-scale brawl ignited. Kharja was later ejected after mounting a counterattack of his own against Nene, but Al-Arabi would hang on to defeat Al-Gharafa 2-1 and advance to the QNB Cup final.
Though the beautiful game is often regarded as one of the least violent professional sports, Nene’s attack is just the latest entry on a list of vicious acts that have occurred over the last few weeks.
In a game last Sunday between English Premiere League squads Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United, Wigan forward Callum McManaman delivered one of the most gruesome tackles of the year, landing cleat-first into the knee of Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara. McManaman did not receive a card during the game for the challenge — later referred to as “the horror tackle” — nor was he penalized by the Football Association in the following days.
Not long before that, a French U-17 goalkeeper quite literally launched an attack of his own, when he brutally ninja-kicked an opponent’s midsection in pursuit of a loose ball.
Though Nene’s actions were deplorable, at least he didn’t react like this disgruntled Turkish player after receiving the dreaded red card. Perhaps a global sportsmanship seminar is in order, eh (FIFA president) Sepp Blatter?
Check out the video of Tuesday’s Qatari throwdown below.