Ref deserved digital salute

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:08 AM ET

Talk about giving fans the finger.

Poor Paulo Diogo was so excited about setting up Servette's third goal in the 87th minute of a Swiss league game, that he jumped onto a metal perimeter fence to celebrate in front of his adoring fans.

Unfortunately for the newlymarried midfielder, his wedding ring got caught in the fence.

And when he jumped down, it wasn't just his ring that was missing - but part of the ring finger on his left hand.

Diogo began writhing in pain, but the referee wasn't impressed.

Assuming the midfielder's antics were part of an out-of-control goal celebration, the ref promptly booked the midfielder.

Or as a dodgy translation of the match put it, he ''held up to him a yellow paperboard under the nose.''

It was only then that everyone else started to realize what had happened.

Soon, technical staff were running onto the pitch to comfort the player and search for the missing part of his finger. It was eventually found and packed in ice.

PERFORMED AN AMPUTATION

But surgeons at a Zurich hospital were unable to reattach it and instead, with Diogo's permission, they performed an amputation.

''Players cried in the dressing room,'' Servette player Adrian Ursea told the Tribune de Geneve. ''What happened to Paulo is terribly shocking."

The shock of witnessing the freak injury didn't seem to affect Servette's performance, however.

With just three minutes left on the clock, the team scored again to secure a 4-1 victory.

''We dedicate this victory to Paulo,'' said former French international Christian Karembeu.

According to Servette FC's website, Diogo is a ''very unlucky person'' but is making a good recovery at home after the operation.

There was no word on whether the yellow card will be rescinded.

Or whether the referee has been invited to run a ref training school in South America.

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The official FIFA results won't be announced until Dec. 20, but readers of this column have already chosen their World Player of the Year.

Yes, you decided - almost without exception - that the winner should be that buck-toothed Brazilian soccer genius Ronaldhino.

Arsenal's Thierry Henry mustered only a handful of votes to come in a distant second.

And there wasn't a single email sent in support of Andriy - the lethal weapon - Shevchenko.

Which just goes to show that our readers know what they're talking about.

A QUICK LOOK BACK

That said, a quick look back at previous winners reveals something of a disturbing trend.

The last 13 have all come from two leagues - Italy and Spain - and just five clubs: Inter and AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

So as a native of England, I've been left with no choice but to turn my back on our buck-toothed Brazilian friend. And switch my allegiances to Henry.


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