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  • Jacob Sweetman: Good intentions


Jacob Sweetman: Good intentions

1.FC Union's former midfielder Macchambes Younga-Mouhani may have to go to the civil courts to face VFL Bochum's Matias Concha, whose ankle snapped under his challenge in the teams match in December. It could set a precedent.

The news that Macchambes Younga-Mouhani may have to go to court to defend a civil case brought against him by the Swedish VFL Bochum player Matias Concha is, to say the least, surprising.

The player, who retired from 1.FC Union at the end of the last season (and is still looking to ply his trade lower down for another year or two) could stand to be €200,000 worse off should he lose, and the courts themselves would be preparing for a flood of similar claims.

Lawyers would be circling the countries dressing rooms like the proverbial flies on shit (normally I wouldn’t even mean to imply that lawyers would be the flies, but that’s all vitriol for a different day).

I was there that day – Union vs. Bochum at the Alte Försterei. It was December and there was a poisonous atmosphere in the air. The referee, Robert Hartmann, had lost control of the match already – having shown a yellow card in the first minute to Union’s Berndt Rauw, he left himself very little room to maneuver for the rest of the match – and the opprobrium from the stands was deafening. It was one of those games where the crowd collectively lost it a little. The whistles were deafening, and every decision – right or wrong – was greeted with howls of derision.

This was the background to the challenge. The ball broke to Concha charging down the right near the halfway line. It was in front of him and he slid towards it. “Mac” was covering. He came out to get it but the ball evaded them both. Mac had hit Concha and the whistles reached a new level. “He was faking. Look at the reaction, ref send the fucker off” was the general impression given from the stands next to where the ailing Bochum player lay. For once the hapless ref even gave the free-kick Unions way, but Mouhani had retreated to the half way line, and he looked like he’d seen a ghost. He had just snapped Concha’s ankle, and he knew it. It was sickening.

Absicht” is an important word. As in: Niemand hat die absicht, ein mauer zu erreichen (“nobody has the intention to build a wall”). Just because Walter Ulbricht said nobody had the intention to build one, it didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to happen, did it?

Can a court definitively prove that Mouhani was going into the challenge to hurt Mathias Concha? To break his ankle? I’m not so sure they can. Where is the line between recklessness and malice? Or more importantly, certainly in this case, the line that exists that a sportsman is fighting against all the time. The line that denotes when you are getting too old for this shit?

Mouhani, and anyone can tell you this, was never the fastest cat out of the blocks. He was 36 in December, and was ambling towards the end of his career as it became apparent that he physically couldn’t keep up with the pace of the second division.

Mouhani’s challenge was sickening but, I think it happened purely because he was too slow. The ball had gone and he hit Concha. Within the context of the game he may certainly have wanted to take both the ball and the man, but that’s allowed. Football is a hard sport. It’s a very difficult one to decide; didn’t Concha invite the risk just by being on the pitch? What about the pass, that had been slightly over hit to him, making him have to slide in towards the onrushing Mouhani – if it had been more precise could this all have been avoided? If we are going to the courts, then how far up can the blame go, maybe to Uwe Neuhaus who picked a holding midfielder who was too slow for the league? Maybe every one of the fans that whistled and jeered and goaded that day was responsible too.

It’s a very sad story. Two players with what would seem like dream jobs. Concha hasn’t played since. Mouhani’s is ending naturally, and he is now moving towards that time that the professional footballer dreads – retirement. But he won’t have earned the crazy money of a modern Premiership or Bundesliga player. He has to find a new career, and a couple of hundred grand would go a long way to making the job a bit easier. Let’s be honest, Macchambes Younga-Mouhani will not be down the pit on Monday morning with a shovel and a pickaxe, his P45 in hand, but this certainly isn’t the situation he’d have intended to be in.