Feature

Why did Berisha the provocateur go unpunished?

Goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis was big enough to apologise profusely for his offensive verbal attack on striker Besart Berisha during the Melbourne derby between City and Victory. But where is the Albanian's apology?

bouzanis berisha

Dean Bouzanis and Besart Berisha clash during the FFA Cup semi-final last October Source: Getty Images

Make no mistake, the attack was highly derogatory.

City's Bouzanis was handed a five-match ban for calling Victory's Berisha a "f***ing gypsy" in the final stages of a heated confrontation which Victory won 2-1 with two late, late goals.

"I have accepted the sanction handed down. I have apologised to Berisha and Melbourne Victory directly and I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my apology to the fans and the broader Australian football community," Bouzanis said.

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"My future actions on and off the pitch will demonstrate I have learnt from this experience."

The incident arose after Berisha was indirectly involved in what turned out to be the winning goal.



After missing a penalty and drawing both teams level with an opportunist goal, Berisha picked the ball from the City net, slammed it at Bouzanis and remonstrated angrily with the goalkeeper after Manny Muscat deflected a low shot into his own net.

It was then that Bouzanis let his frustrations get the better of him and he let loose with a series of abusive rants at the Albanian.

Bouzanis's abuse was caught on television. It was understandable but also ugly and distasteful.

Berisha was all tears after the match as he tried to explain the tumultuous events that turned the derby on its head.

Perhaps Berisha, who is no stranger to controversy, should have wept for the way he had brought the game into disrepute by rejoicing in a fellow professional's misery.

Okay, it was a heated derby and Berisha himself must have felt relieved that his first-half penalty miss would not cost his side.

But regardless of the pressure-cooker atmosphere prevailing at Etihad Stadium, Berisha should not have acted in such an unsportsmanlike and clearly provocative manner.

Berisha is a better player than that and frankly I'm sick and tired of coaches trying to excuse his appalling behaviour that has dogged him since he set foot in this country in 2011 by claiming it is all part of his passion and will to win.
Many players are similarly passionate and hungry but they do not resort to such despicable behaviour.

This is not a defence of Bouzanis. He certainly got what he deserved and Football Federation Australia should be commended for putting their foot down in a bid to eradicate an undesirable aspect of the beautiful game.

Hopefully players will think twice now before engaging in such cringeworthy actions.

But it should not be forgotten that Berisha had a major part to play in the fracas that sparked the 'wrong' headlines for a remarkable match that showcased all that is good about the A-League. And he got away with it.

Players abusing each other has been and will always be a part of the game.

Many have said the punishment was a bit harsh and Bouzanis was just unlucky that the incident looked very bad because it was caught on television for all to see.

Incidents like these harm the game and must always be dealt with strongly.


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3 min read
Published 9 February 2017 at 12:07pm
By Philip Micallef
Source: SBS