Foot­ball loses when money be­comes ev­ery­thing

CityPress - - Sport - S’Bu­siso Mse­leku sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @SbuMse­leku

In his First Epis­tle to Ti­mothy, chap­ter 6, verse 10, in the Bi­ble, Paul cau­tions: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

The shenani­gans this week in­volv­ing Jomo Cos­mos and Mar­itzburg United in the Premier Soc­cer League (PSL), and Baroka FC in the Na­tional First Di­vi­sion (NFD), left much to be de­sired.

Ezenkosi found them­selves em­broiled in a case about their use of an in­el­i­gi­ble player. Mar­itzburg – who un­til yes­ter­day were in a ruth­less three-horse race with Cos­mos and Uni­ver­sity of Pre­to­ria to avoid rel­e­ga­tion – be­came an in­ter­ested party in the mat­ter.

Mar­itzburg have been en­trenched at the bot­tom of the log for the bet­ter part of the sea­son. It was ob­vi­ous, then, that they were pray­ing for a guilty ver­dict and a sanc­tion – and points docked for Cos­mos.

In the NFD, Baroka – who have led the pack but for a few weeks when they were un­seated by clos­est ri­val High­lands Park – found them­selves fac­ing a sim­i­lar charge.

Your guess is as good as mine on to who alerted the league to the pos­si­bil­ity that Baroka used an in­el­i­gi­ble player.

While Mar­itzburg and High­lands acted within their rights, it is the tim­ing of their com­plaints that gets my goat.

There was a time in South African foot­ball when each sea­son’s tail-end was marred by a mas­sive num­ber of cases. The league’s pros­e­cu­tors, lawyers and ar­bi­tra­tors burnt the mid­night oil for days to cope with the sheer num­ber of com­plaints.

I thought we were past all that. This ugly phe­nom­e­non has not played it­self out for quite a while. And then, boom! It started again. It gives foot­ball an ugly shiner and it smacks of un­fair play.

Fifa has had a cam­paign called Fair Play run­ning for some years, but I doubt it is fair play to try to gain points in the board­room rather than on the field.

While I do not con­done clubs break­ing the rules, this should be at­tended to as it hap­pens, not at the end of the sea­son when pro­mo­tion or rel­e­ga­tion hangs in the bal­ance. That smacks of bad faith. Fans fol­low the game in num­bers be­cause of the skill and agility play­ers use to out­smart or out­ma­noeu­vre their op­po­nents.

You will never see hun­dreds, let alone thou­sands, at­tend a foot­ball hear­ing. And therein lies the rub.

What peo­ple want is a clean game of foot­ball, with no manga manga busi­ness.

The PSL and the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion should do their damnedest to en­sure such things do not hap­pen, or they’ll lose what­ever ground they have gained in build­ing foot­ball as a brand.

Can you imag­ine if top leagues like the Span­ish La Liga and the English Premier League were dogged by hear­ings and court cases at the end of each sea­son?

I also found it per­turb­ing that when the PSL is­sued the state­ment on the out­come of the Cos­mos case, they signed off by say­ing: “The PSL will make no fur­ther com­ment on the mat­ter.”

What about those who wanted some clar­ity? Has the league got some­thing to hide? Af­ter all, they reg­is­tered the player.

Fri­day’s out­come – in which Cos­mos was fined, the player sus­pended and no points were docked – en­sured the teams still had some­thing to fight for in their en­counter yes­ter­day.

That’s what foot­ball is all about.

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