Joe Pidik, a victim of the violence which erupted in Papua New Guinea after the Digicel Cup semi-final last week, has sadly passed away as a result of his injuries.
Pidik is survived by his son Torot Pidik and wife Valencia Pidik.
The betting shop worker and his colleagues were driving to their place of work on the evening of the game in Port Moresby.
They had not been in attendance at the match, but were attacked by a mob of ‘fans’ of Mount Hagen Eagles, who had just lost to Rabaul Gurias.
An assault on the referee by an Eagles coach had triggered a riot in the stadium, which spread to the streets outside.
Pidik, from Watom Island in the East New Britain province, received a blow to the head, and was rushed to the Port Moresby General Hospital.
He succumbed to the head injury on the night of Thursday September 1. His body will be flown back to Kimbe, West New Britain, where he had grown up.
The Rabaul Gurias players have paid their respects at the betting shop where Pidik worked, and the club have issued the following statement:
“Tomorrow’s grand final is no longer about winning or losing. Tomorrow is about playing in the true spirit of how rugby league should be played and that is to leave everything on field when the full-time sirens sounds and the referee blows the whistle to end the game and that’s exactly what it means. THE END OF THE GAME, NO MORE!!!!
“The tragic death of Joe Pidik is due to the fact people could not accept the outcome of the game after full-time and then use that as an excuse to target a different ethnic group or anyone wearing a Gurias shirt. His death should be reminder to all of us that no matter how important the game is whether it’s a normal game or as it is tomorrow a grand final in the end all it is, is a game. No life is worth the glory of winning a title. Titles change hands every year. A life is gone forever.
“Tomorrow’s game will be dedicated to Joe and his family and we hope that you all can come down and support, wear black arm bands on your left arm as the team will be paying tribute to him as well in the same way and we will have a minutes silence before kick off.”