Philippine football

Two sides of story: UST juniors football team makes stand after punching incident in UAAP final

Delfin Dioquino

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Two sides of story: UST juniors football team makes stand after punching incident in UAAP final

GOALIE. Ben Sabuga in action for the UST Junior Golden Booters in the UAAP Season 86 boys' football tournament.


The UST Junior Golden Booters ask fans to look at two sides of the story after their goalkeeper, Ben Sabuga, punched FEU Baby Tamaraws defender Bryan Villanueva at the end of the UAAP boys' football final

MANILA, Philippines – As far as the UST Junior Golden Booters are concerned, there is more to the punching incident involving one of their players than meets the eye.

The Junior Golden Booters asked fans to look at two sides of the story after UST substitute goalkeeper Ben Sabuga attacked FEU defender Bryan Villanueva following the Baby Tamaraws’ 3-0 win in the final of the UAAP Season 86 boys’ football tournament on Thursday, February 29.

While his teammates were celebrating, Villanueva walked past the UST bench and appeared to shush spectators before a rushing Sabuga punched him at the back of the head. 

“[A] senior player from FEU, donning the captain’s armband charged towards UST’s technical area, hurling offensive taunts at their coaches, players, and supporters. He continued unchecked by anyone from FEU,” the Junior Golden Booters said in a statement posted on their Instagram account on Friday, March 1. 

“The actions of this player have been captured and been posted in the social media. Unfortunately, some parts of these videos being circulated may have been spliced and only showed the reactions of some UST players.”

Although the Junior Golden Booters do not excuse Sabuga for his reckless act, they said disrespecting opponents should also be frowned upon.

“We do not condone these reactions by our players as we strongly believe that violence has no place in sports. But we also do not tolerate disrespect and rude behavior towards opponents, coaching staff, and supporters,” the team said. 

“If a spontaneous reaction of a UST player warrants criticism and discipline, it is also with more reason that a deliberate and shameless display of rudeness by this FEU player, who instigated this incident after all, should be equally condemned and addressed.”

Sabuga received a scolding from UST coach Marjo Allado after the incident and the Junior Golden Booters said they are dealing with him privately.

“Our team’s culture is built on the spirit of sportsmanship, respect and fair play, and some of our players may not have live up to these expectations during that time. We want to assure everyone that we are taking immediate action to address the situation internally,” the team said.

“In the spirit of fairness, we only asked for your consideration and understanding and look at the incident on both sides with objectivity and impartiality.” –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.