While billions of people the world over love “the beautiful game,” not many Americans understand the draw to soccer. While it may be the world’s most popular game, it does not enjoy the same status on American shores, where we prefer football (America football that is), basketball, baseball, and NASCAR. One of the few things most Americans do know about the game is that Brazilians are very good at it. The Brazilians’ passion for futbol surpasses anything we have here; in fact the only analog I could think of might be college football in the south.
It’s still surprising to us when we see that passion explode into a terrifying overflow of human emotion.
On June 30 in the Brazilian town of Pius XII, named after Catholicism’s Pope Pius XII, a soccer match that was supposed to be an escape to fun for the local community turned into a “not so beautiful game and ended in horrific violence.
The problems began when the referee, a man named Otávio Jordan da Silva de Catanhede, got into an argument with player Linda dos Santos Abreu over a disputed call in the game. The argument became heated and Abreu was ejected from the game. The ejection only escalated matters, and soon the argument between the two men escalated into a physical confrontation. At some point during the fight the referee, da Silva took out a knife and stabbed Abreu who died on the way to the hospital.
Sadly, the violence didn’t end there.
Upon witnessing the altercation and the murder by the referee, several of Abreu’s friends and family members rushed the field and attacked the referee. The eventually tied him up and stoned the man to death. Once he was dead, they quartered his body, cut off his head and placed it upon a stake in the center of the soccer pitch.
Brazilian authorities are on the hunt for all involved in the brutal slaying, but for an outside commentator it really just begs the question, “What is going on out there?”
We like to think that our world has “progressed,” that we’ve moved beyond the barbaric evils of our past. If we are honest with each other though, we haven’t moved forward a bit when it comes to our natural inclination towards violence. All over the world we can observe the evil that resides within humanity, as people persecute, malign, and slaughter each other for their own satisfaction.
Situations like this one at the soccer game should remind us for our great need for something greater. Without the influence of an almighty God, we’d be completely without hope.