Football loses when money becomes everything
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.