The public image of the modern soccer player: self absorbed, worried more about their cars, mobile phones or girlfriends.
Even if the public image of the typical modern soccer player is closer to the preening Cristiano Ronaldo than an altruistic Pope Francis, the players from a soccer club in Miami embarked on a mission to produce and serve pasta to the indigent and homeless population in South Florida.
Moved by the case of Arnold Abbott, an elderly Fort Lauderdale resident who has been sanctioned by city authorities and prevented from feeding the homeless in public places, many have been reconsidered the plight of those less fortunate. So they embraced the mission and stopped worrying about mobile phones, girlfriends or cars, and instead of serving up crosses or distributing the ball, this time its serving the public and serving food.
The police issued Abbott, a 90-year-old WWII veteran, an order to appear in court for a criminal violation of a citation, and the food firestorm has now pitted Abbott and homeless advocates against the city bureaucracy, the police department and Jack Seiler, mayor of Fort Lauderdale.
A half-dozen of the Miami-Dade FC teams players and personnel spent an afternoon making pasta at the Fort Lauderdale factory of Spaghetto, which manufactures fresh pasta, to then cook and donate to the homeless.
Colombian Diego Serna, a former player for Independiente Medellin and several MLS teams, expressed, Its tough to see that in this country. It hurts to see that somebody who wants to help the poor gets in trouble. I hope they dont put us in jail!
Midfielder Andrés Ruiz expressed, “If you don’t have food it’s torture. I heard about the case on the news. It’s wrong. These people are in need of food. This motivates me, especially since pasta is my favorite meal.”
Riccardo Pierantonio, added, “In Italy, food is the life of Italian people. It’s pasta, maybe the homeless can be happy for this one.”
Factory owner Eva Zanzi said, “All Italians love to eat. We’re happy if they eat our food.”
Team president Roberto Linck said it was part of connecting the team to the community, and not just as on-field athletes.
“This distracts them from other things, and in the end they feel good about themselves,” noted Linck.
The players will participate in the weekly servings of the homeless at several Fort Lauderdale churches, which for the most part are allowed by local law as feeding stations for the homeless.
“We love to have the food, and our organization doesn’t receive funding from government. Just Individuals,” said Robin Martin, director of hope South Florida.