COMMENT: The Brazilian striker will not be treated leniently following his assault on Thiago Motta - and he does not deserve to be
In what has been a lamentable summer for Brazilian strikers, Brandao plumbed a new low at Parc des Princes on Saturday where his premeditated post-match headbutt on Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Motta made unwelcome news for Bastia.
While Fred and Jo floundered at the World Cup, Luis Suarez grabbed the headlines with his bite on Giorgio Chiellini, which has rendered the Uruguayan unable to play competitively for four months owing to a ban imposed by Fifa and subsequently backed by CAS.
Brandao, who was granted French citizenship in an attempt to force his way to the summer’s competition in his birthland under the banner of Didier Deschamps’ side, deserves an even more severe punishment.
Suarez might have been caught biting an opponent for a third time, but his offence - as unnaceptable as it may have been - was a reaction in the heat of battle, leaving little more than teeth marks on the shoulder of the Juventus centre-back.
His South American compatriot cannot plead a similar defence. Thiago Motta, unlike his Italy colleague, is liable to miss several matches after his broken nose was confirmed by medical staff.
Substituted out of the game after 72 minutes, the forward, who had been given a rough ride by the capital crowd owing to his past as a Marseille player, had time to calm himself down on the bench. Instead, the man who once scored a dramatic late winner in a last-16 Champions League tie against Inter allowed resentment to grow and in the tunnel after the match, while many of his team-mates were still on the pitch swapping jerseys, he waited in the tunnel for the PSG midfielder. He then landed a headbutt before cowardly scuttling away to the dressing room while his opponent was left bloody-nosed.
The public nature of the incident meant that it was caught on camera and spread virally on social media over the course of the evening.
“Brandao should be suspended for life - he is not a football player,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told Canal+ moments after the blow was landed, not yet aware that an illicit challenge from the same player had left right-back Gregory van der Wiel with a fractured vertebrae.
Injured PSG captain Thiago Silva, one of the few players in the vicinity, was equally incensed, taking to Instagram later in the evening to question: “I want to know how many matches this guy will be suspended for?
“If I got three matches two years ago for touching the referee, imagine something like that? The fourth official saw everything, I was by his side when this guy attacked our player.”
Bastia, meanwhile, have refused to be drawn too heavily into the row, arguing that the comportment of Thiago Motta on the field was just as reprehensible as Brandao’s attack.
“We lament the equally unacceptable behaviour of some players, who are constantly insulting and provoking their opponents,” the Furiani club stated in a press release, caveating their relative support of their forward by noting that they would reserve the right to take further action once the relevant authorities had made their decisions.
| "Brandao should be suspended for life. He is not a football player"
- Nasser Al-Khelaifi
This has infuriated Thiago Motta's camp, with the player allegedly yet to receive an apology from Brandao or Bastia.
“I’m surprised by some of the official statements made by Bastia and its employees. The surprise is even greater because neither the player nor the club have apologised yet to Thiago Motta or to PSG," Motta's agent Alessandro Canovi told Goal.
"I think it’s nonsense and very hypocritical to act as if Thiago Motta had been provoking [Brandao] in order to justify the fact he was the victim of a cowardly ambush.
"I’m also saddened by the fact that there is another victim in this story; the audience, especially the youngest viewers, who have witnessed the scene on television and on social networks. This is a premeditated and violent act that I still consider as a true ambush.”
For Brandao, who is no stranger to controversy after being wrongly arrested for sexual assault in 2011, it could be the beginning of the end of his career. The Disciplinary Committee of Ligue 1 tend to take a harsh line on such incidents, with erstwhile Saint-Etienne defender Kurt Zouma suspended for 10 matches last term following a clumsy challenge that left Sochaux winger Thomas Guerbert with a broken ankle. A premeditated attack such as this one could see a ban of up to two years.
While it is unlikely that the committee will choose to suspend the 34-year-old for such a lengthy period, it is entirely possible that they preclude his participation in competitive football until 2015, forcing Bastia back into the transfer market and giving them the ammunition to sack a player expected to be central to their offensive plans this season.
PSG have elected not to press charges with the police, who are set to conduct their own investigation into events, but it seems that Al-Khelaifi’s wish that Brandao does not step foot onto a French football pitch in the future may yet manifest itself.
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