Apr 04 2011

Zilina v Slovan ‘ends’ in controversy

Published by at 12:07 pm under Domestic and tagged:

A busy first weekend back in Bratislava for me started on Friday evening in the All Star Sports Cafe, Bratislava for arguably the biggest match of the season so far, Champions MSK Zilina at home to a resurgent Slovan team desperate for 3 points to close the gap at the top of the table.

I had planned to travel to the match, and for the weeks leading up to it had been constantly in two minds over whether to join fellow writer & Slovak football enthusiast James Baxter in the ‘neutral’ stand, or join the 500-strong travelling contingent behind the goal.  In the end, weather-related delays to my travel plans meant I had to settle for All Star Sports, a perfectly pleasant place to watch football, although at €2.10 a pint of Zlaty Bazant, prices in Old Town Bratislava are definitely on the up!

So, the scene was set, 6,500 fans were in a sun-drenched Pod Dubnom, one of the biggest domestic crowds of the season despite TV coverage fixing the kick-off time at an inconvenient 17:30.  Slovan came out strongly and for the first 30 minutes or so totally dominated possession and territory.  Unfortunately Zilina’s defence remained steadfast and Slovan just couldn’t find the cutting edge during that dominant spell.  Towards the end of the first half and throughout the second half, the match started meandering into a very dull affair, which [in my opinion] was probably a result of Slovan’s dominance but Zilina having a very strong and well organised defence.

The week after several domestic-based players made their debuts for the National Team, this was a poor advert for the Corgon Liga.  Sebo huffed and puffed up front for Slovan, Guede was influential as ever, but the usually creative pairing of Milinkovic and Zofcak just couldn’t conjure up a clear-cut chance for the visitors.

After 70 minutes, Zilina striker Momodou Ceesay was shown a 2nd yellow for diving and had to no choice but to leave the field amid increasing tension and aggression on and off the field.  In scenes James will most likely be better able to describe, all kinds of accusations were flying around the VIP zone between dignatories of both clubs, mainly over the choice of referee for this match and ongoing relationships between the clubs, the SFZ and the ULK [Union of League Clubs].

The Ceesay sending off was certainly harsh, I would even go as far as to say Zilina had a reasonable case for a penalty there.  However Slovan certainly didn’t deserve to go behind at that stage.  The sending off just served to lessen the spectacle even further and the match looked increasingly like ending in an unsatisfactory [for Slovan] 0-0 draw.  What didn’t really come across on the TV was how the tension was continuing to build in the stands and nobody expected what was about to unfold in 90th minute of proceedings.

What happened at the end has turned into a massive scandal dominating the newspapers this weekend.  A Zilina fan jumped onto the pitch from the stands and pushed the linesman with such force he went flying about 2 metres along the touchline.  The referee then took his colleagues into the changing rooms and despite the best attempts of the players, refused to come back out and play the remaining seconds of the match plus injury time.  The match was over, 0-0 on the scoreboard, but only 89 minutes played.  Nobody knows the outcome.  The official league tables have considered the result void and it’s anybody’s guess at the moment how this will end up.  There are suggestions of Slovan being awarded the match, or a replay.  We await the official decision with interest this week, I hope!

Sport Front Page!

An interview with the experienced Zilina player Zdeno Strba on the TV after the match certainly appeared to contain plenty of juicy quotes however I didn’t realise the extent of what Strba said about the referee until a translation of the article almost made me choke on my breakfast the following morning!   Strba’s words about the competency and sobriety of the referee will no doubt land him in hot water, the officials now threatening legal action over that interview!  It could certainly be argued that considering the amount of fans who had paid good money to attend the match, the referee could have given more thought to concluding the fixture properly.  Especially as it now seems that whatever the outcome it should benefit Slovan more than the 0-0 draw the match was heading for. However Strba certainly exceeded the limits in what a professional football player, one of international experience, no less, should say in that kind of situation.  Unbelievable!

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Zilina v Slovan ‘ends’ in controversy”

  1.   James Baxteron 04 Apr 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Very good, fair-minded write-up. Completely agree in most of the fundamentals.

    I was thinking of doing my own piece on the game over the weekend but ultimately couldn’t be bothered, I think because events just left a feeling of emptiness and sadness. As you say, it was arguably the biggest match of the season so far and for it to end that way…. It’s just sad.

    I would genuinely have preferred Slovan to confirm their total domination of that first 30 mins by going two or three up. Zilina wouldn’t have got back into it, there would have been no controversy and most of the home fans would have been in the pub discussing their side’s shortcomings long before the final whistle. Better that than have the occasion spoiled by aggression, followed by accusations and counter-accusations.

    I also agree that, while Zilina did get back into the game, it was only by breaking up Slovan’s rhythm, not by generating any of their own. Between the 30th and 70th minutes, it was just unwatchable.

    Then came the sending-off. It may or may not have been the right decision. If it was the right one, I hope Mr Chmura is asking himself why he didn’t also book Guede for his (more blatant) first-half belly-flop. To even up that little complaint, though, Slovan have suffered harsh red-cards on their last two visits to pod Dubnom, something most Zilina fans seem to have erased from their memories.

    The attack on the official? It was just one guy but he compromised the safety of those taking part in the game. The atmosphere had become very highly-charged by that point and I don’t particularly blame the ref and his assistants for not being prepared to play the final moments. OK, Zilina-Spartak Moscow
    was completed after the flare-throwing incidents and various other acts of hooliganism back in December, so was Trnava v Zlate Moravce in October, when what looked like a full bottle was thrown. But if the officials can’t be sure of their, or the players’ safety, they’re within their rights to call it off.

    One interesting development over the w/e has been that the fan has written an open letter of apology for his actions. Mr Antosik confirms that he’s a Za season-ticket holder of longstanding, thus immediately putting an end to perhaps the most ridiculous conspiracy theory of all – that he was actually an enemy agent planted specifically to cause trouble and get Zilina punished.

    Just one little correction re the abuse directed at Mr Tittel after the red card. It was Zilina fans, many of them season-ticket holders (they’re normally a placid bunch in that stand), either side of the VIP section who were responsible for that, not Zilina
    directors or VIPs. Antosik, who must have felt himself to be in a very difficult situation, actually went down to try to calm his bench, who had also got rather overheated.

    You’re completely right in what you say about Strba. He’s going to be in all sorts of trouble for those comments and rightly so. If he felt Slysko had said inappropriate things to him, he should have made his own complaint, perhaps via the club. I’m also a bit surprised at Hapal for essentially backing him up. The Slovan management and players, by contrast, were a model of diplomacy.

    Still, this isn’t the full story. I felt tense on the way to this game, not because of the usual ‘will we beat them?’ or ‘are they really better than us?’ type questions which should get you going ahead of a football match but because the situation surrounding the SFZ and ULK, specifically Kovacik and Tittel, blew right up at the end of the week and was always going to loom large over the atmosphere.

    Tittel, a SFZ vice-president, head of ULK, ex-coach of Slovan (before it was found he didn’t have the required licences) and current Slovan Director of Football gave an interview to TA3 in which he a) clearly attempted to undermine Kovacik and b) made two patently untrue statements regarding both his own function at SFZ and last year’s budget deficits. The owner of TA3 is, needless to say, also the owner of a certain football club which plays in light blue and white (no, not Man City). And the man who insisted Tittel step down from his coaching job at Slovan last year? Karol Belanik, then head of the ULK, ex Zilina Director of Football, and now a functionary at Zilina again.

    Given all that, can we really be surprised that things went so wrong on Friday?

  2.   Stary Jazvecon 04 Apr 2011 at 5:57 pm

    This will be 3-0 kontumacia to Slovan and quite right. If Zilina cannot prevent the officials being assaulted by their supporters, they should be playing in an empty stadium IMO.

    Disgraceful comments from the Zilina camp particulary Strba, disgraceful stuff from the Zilina players trying to prevent the officials from leaving the pitch.

    Any number of comments from the Zilina camp along the lines of the supporter didnt hit the lino that much and there were only 2 minutes left so they should have carried on. Pathetic.

  3.   James Baxteron 04 Apr 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Decision to be announced on Thursday. No individual members of ULK or SFZ disciplinary committee will comment before then.

  4.   Stary Jazvecon 05 Apr 2011 at 1:25 am

    Disgraceful i/v by Antosik in Sport as well. First the insincere apology then loads of weasely bullshit and conspiracy theory. For example:

    “Ale myslím si, že pri troche dobrej vôle sa zápas mohol dohrať a potom sme mohli byť disciplinárne riešení. Prečo sa tak nestalo, nechám na verejnosť, aby si o tom urobila mienku.”

  5.   James Baxteron 05 Apr 2011 at 10:27 am

    Stary Jazvec, I agree with you, there really isn’t a debate to be had here. The safety of the players and themselves is the match officials’ most fundamental responsibility and I can tell you myself, having been there, that I feel their safety would have been further compromised had they agreed to carry on in that atmosphere.

    I think Antosik did a decent enough job during the game (esp going down to the bench to calm things following the red card) but that interview, which I only read yesterday eve after posting my comment here, was pretty contemptible. The part you quote is bad enough. Worse for me is the bit where he says that Slysko has had problems at Za before, including last season with Ivan Lietava. What he doesn’t add is that, on that occasion, Lietava, who wasn’t even playing at the time, let fly at the official with a volley of abuse and was suspended by both the club and the SFZ as a result.

    Zilina are coming out of it all badly but fans with some semblance of sanity (I’ve talked to a few over the last couple of days) admit that it’ll have to be at least a kontumacia.

    As I said, no debate to be had really.

  6.   James Baxteron 06 Apr 2011 at 11:19 am

    Ceesay’s red has been rescinded and Kiss, who, they now decree, brought him down at the end of the first-half has been given a retrospective ban as he would have had a second yellow had Chmura seen the offence. Angelovic also given a ban for manhandling Slysko.

    Chmura has given what reads as a rather grovelling apology for his performance in Sport this morning. It’s big of him to publicly admit mistakes but I can’t help feeling he goes just a bit too far, not least because they were understandable mistakes and I reckon the authorities would have needed a lot of replays to come to their verdicts.

    None of this should affect the decision made on how to punish Zilina, of course.

  7.   Stary Jazvecon 06 Apr 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Nice i/v with the hoolie in Sport today. Family man, usually goes to games with his 5yo son. “I wasnt drunk, I’d only had 5 borovickas.” has got me laughing.

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