Pay­ing a PSL player R5k a month is al­most a crime

CityPress - - Sport - Sm­se­leku@city­ Fol­low me on Twit­ter @SBu_M­se­leku

I was touched by the ar­ti­cle on soc­cer player Ndu­miso Vezi that was pub­lished in the Sowe­tan re­cently.

The front page ar­ti­cle stated that the 24-year-old was try­ing to main­tain his fit­ness by play­ing soc­cer with young­sters in Fol­weni town­ship near Dur­ban – af­ter a fall­out with PSL side Ajax Cape Town.

Vezi is now fi­nan­cially de­pen­dent on his pen­sioner fa­ther, ac­cord­ing to the ar­ti­cle.

It was re­ported that the player was dumped by Ajax af­ter sur­viv­ing a hit-and-run car ac­ci­dent in 2013.

The club then re­quested that he pay back the R339 000 that was spent on his hos­pi­tal bill and – around the same time – stopped pay­ing him. It’s worth not­ing that, ac­cord­ing to the ar­ti­cle, the player’s con­tract stip­u­lated that he would earn R5 000 per month in his first year, R6 000 in the sec­ond, R11 000 in the third and R12 000 in the fourth.

The first thing that got my goat was that there are still clubs that pay play­ers such low salaries de­spite the mil­lions be­ing poured into lo­cal football these days.

The next thing that irked me was that the news­pa­per could re­port­edly not get com­ment from the club, as “chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ari Ef­s­tathiou is cur­rently out of the coun­try”. The Sowe­tan then sent a re­quest for com­ment to club spokesper­son Milo Boer, who ac­knowl­edged re­ceiv­ing it, but did not re­spond.

There is noth­ing as frus­trat­ing as spokes­peo­ple who don’t speak!

The ar­ti­cle is a win­dow into how football play­ers are still be­ing ex­ploited and have very lit­tle pro­tec­tion.

This is a chal­lenge for a num­ber of rea­sons.

Firstly, the SA Football Play­ers’ Union (Safpu) should take such mat­ters se­ri­ously.

Of course, they could well say the player is not a mem­ber of the union.

Even if that is the case, given the time they have had with the PSL at the bar­gain­ing cham­ber, play­ers should be earn­ing de­cent ba­sic salaries by now.

Se­condly, play­ers should have ben­e­fits such as med­i­cal aid and in­sur­ance.

Ajax was Vezi’s em­ployer when he was in­volved in the ac­ci­dent. Why was he not cov­ered by the club’s med­i­cal aid?

Are clubs not in­sured against such losses?

While it is a mat­ter be­tween em­ployer and em­ployee, can the PSL not in­ter­vene, as the club is an af­fil­i­ate of the coun­try’s gov­ern­ing body for soc­cer?

The PSL prides it­self on be­ing among the best leagues in the world, so such mat­ters would surely dent its im­age if not ad­dressed?

I think the PSL should be­come in­volved in this mat­ter with Vezi and en­sure that all its rules and reg­u­la­tions are ad­hered to.

Fur­ther­more, if the league is one of the best in the world, it should en­sure that ba­sic – de­cent – em­ployee rights are ad­hered to, not only by the league but by its af­fil­i­ates, that is to say the clubs.

City Press re­cently pub­lished a story in which Safpu pres­i­dent Hareaipha Marumo said some football agents did not de­serve even a cent from play­ers’ deals.

But if Vezi does not have an agent and is not a mem­ber of the union, Marumo’s or­gan­i­sa­tion should still take up his case – even if on a pro bono ba­sis.

Last month, it was re­ported that Polok­wane City player Rog­gert Nyundu earned R5 000 per month.

This is the same club that, a few years ago, was ac­cused of fail­ing to take care of one of its play­ers, Kopano Sek­go­b­ela, who was wheel­chair bound.

Sek­go­b­ela was in­jured dur­ing a car ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing a num­ber of the club’s play­ers – some of the play­ers died.

An in­jury to one is an in­jury to all!

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