The World Cup’s World-Class A**hole


According to Yahoo Sports, in the aftermath of Algeria’s crushing loss to the United States, a played named Rafik Saifi slapped a female reporter in the face. Wrote Yahoo’s Martin Rogers: “While walking through the interview zone, Saifi spotted writer Asma Halimi, who works for Algerian newspaper Competition, and struck her with his open hand in front of dozens of witnesses. Halimi responded by striking the player in the mouth. Saifi then threw a sports drink bottle at a wall in the interview area, as Halimi was ushered away by security staff.”

Two thoughts:

A. Good for Halimi, punching this anus and not meekly slinking away. I look back at my career and think of multiple times when I wish I’d thrown a punch or two—even if it would have likely resulted in my pummeling. The first, obviously, is Rocker … though he would have absolutely killed me. The second was a confrontation with Will Clark in the Orioles’ spring training clubhouse. Though Clark probably would have beaten me down, too, I wouldn’t have been surprised had Delino DeShields and Charles Johnson, two African-American Orioles who clearly didn’t care much for their supposedly racist first baseman, jumped in. Not on my behalf–just for the joy of smacking around a jackass.

B. I don’t know how these things work in Algeria, but clearly that should be it for Saifi. As in, never again will he represent the nation in interenational play. There are things athletes can do. Many things. Punk smacking a woman? Uh … no.

For the record, this might do wonders for Halimi. Most people don’t love the media—but there’s something endearing about a journalist standing up to a bully. In my circles, one of the great moments in the history of sports scribery (an invented word) came on September 9, 1979, when Will McDonough of the Boston Globe punched a Patriot defensive back named Raymond Clayborn, knocking him into a laundry cart and taking down a number of people with him. ”After that, he became a folk hero.” says Vince Doria, the former Globe sports editor who is now vice president/ director of news at ESPN.

”You know how when you’re a kid, you go around saying, `My dad can beat up your dad’?” said Sean McDonough. ”Well, after that, I went to school saying, `Never mind beating up your dad. My dad can beat up an NFL player.”’