Veteran Portuguese defender Pepe was involved in a heated on-pitch bust-up with Porto teammate Mamadou Loum after their side’s win against Farense, with officials and teammates scrambling to separate the warring players.
The fracas occurred moments after the final whistle of their team’s 1-0 away win against the relegation-threatened Primera Liga side as ex-Real Madrid stalwart Pepe approached approached his Senegalese teammate Loum, presumably to congratulate him for his role in the victory – only for Loum to push Pepe in the chest.
The 37-year-old defender briefly looked puzzled before he returned the favor, pushing Loum straight back as they launched into a heated war of words. Pepe then drove his shoulder into Loum’s chest before the two furious players were separated by teammates and match officials.
Somewhat bizarrely, Loum had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes following his introduction as a late substitute so the motive for their fury remains unclear.
After being restrained, a clearly angry Pepe stormed down the tunnel towards the dressing room while Loum remained on the field where he was calmed down by another teammate, Modibo Marega, and selection of the Porto coaching staff.
Afterwards, Loum took to social media where he issued a terse apology for the very public incident, describing Pepe as being like an “older brother” to him.
“I would like to apologize to all FC Porto fans for the unfortunate incident that occurred this evening. It should never have happened. Pepe is an older brother and I have learned a lot from him,” the 24-year-old wrote via translation.
Sergio Conceicao, the former Portuguese international winger who is now Porto’s head coach, was equally keen to draw a line through the matter.
“There is nothing to explain, these are normal things in football,” he said after the game.
“It happens when players from the same team have a different opinion. It was that moment of disagreement. In addition, we are talking about a team with character and personality and this is clear to see. Everything is resolved.”
Pepe has long held a reputation as one of the beautiful game’s more controversial characters. He won a galaxy of championships during his decade-long spell with Real Madrid but was frequently the target of opposing fans’ boo-boys for what was seen by many as repeated infractions against the spirit of the sport.
He has been regularly cited in the media for his aggressive style of play, as well as repeated incidents of so-called “diving” during games.