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Stolen Valor

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Stolen Valor:  Questionable Practices
Taint Brazilian Win

The Brazilian Amputee Soccer team is probably the best in the world. Probably.

The team's undeniable dedication, passion, and considerable skills may have been more than enough to win this year's world championship. Probably - even more than likely.


Brazilian Ref Luis Felix - always on the field

Sadly, we'll never know. We'll never know because it also appears the Brazilian governing body didn't trust the team enough to win on its own merits. It elected, rather, to tilt the field sharply in the home team's favor.

The Brazilian team took home the trophy, but under conditions which would have caused howls of indignaiton, scandal, and governmental investigations in any other country.

The favoritism was blatant enough to make a Russian blush. Or maybe that's just the way the game is played in Brazil.

Home Town Referee

Take, for example, the case of Luis Felix. Mr. Felix is the head referee for the Brazilian Amputee Soccer Organization. As head referee, Mr. Felix also named himself head referee for every match Brazil played including the semi-final.

Only after heated protests did Mr. Felix accept the second referee's position in the Gold Medal match.

Rules "Inconvenient"

The Brazilian organization also seemed to view standing game rules as inconvenient.

The Rules of the Game state that team rosters shall consist of 15 players. The photo at the right, shot during play, shows 10 men on the Brazilian bench.

Seven on the field, plus 10 on the bench equals a roster of 17, clearly violating the 15 man limit as set down by international rules.

Georgi Lunacharski
No intervention

But maybe that's the way the game is played in Brazil.

But the tournament was supposed to be played under Rules set forth by the International Amputee Football Federation (IAFF).

IAFF President Georgi Lunacharski, at right, attended the tournament, watched the matches, and apparently did nothing to preserve the integrity of game he's supposed to govern.

So the Brazilian Association has its third straight world championship - but at a heavy cost. The cost of respect denied from established international sports, and respect denied players around to world who honor and dedicate themselves to the game.

The heaviest cost, however, is to the Brazilian team itself. A referee's calls and non-calls, and the padding of the bench may or may not have made a difference in the ultimate outcome.

The cost, and the crime, is that the magnificent Brazilian team, with all its skills, with all its poetry on the pitch, was not given enough credit, not appreciated enough, not trusted enough to be allowed to win on its own merits.

Maybe next year.

Richard Hofmann
Publisher



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