FORMER FOOTBALL STAR SLAMS PLAYERS
• Masi to players: Leave football if you want to do drugs. • He has also accused some players of disrespecting the sport.
Aformer national football captain has called for harsher punishments to combat drugs in the sport, adding that an uncompromising stance was the
only way to eradicate the problem. Former Fiji and Ba striker Esala Masi, who also had a distinguished professional career with the Wollongong Wolves in Australia, has slammed players that are not respecting the sport.
Masi, who competed at the recent RC Manubhai/APCO Coatings International Veterans Tournament for the Brisbane Bula Boys, was Fiji’s only professional player for some time until Roy Krishna entered the scene.
The 45-year-old’s most notable achievement came in 2000 when he won the Australian National Soccer League (now the Hyundai A-League) with Wollongong.
He also led Fiji to their last Pacific Games gold medal triumph, scoring twice in a 2-0 win over New Caledonia in Suva at the 2003 event.
Masi has praised Ba and Fiji Football Association for suspending players for issues related to drugs and general indiscipline.
“Since I’ve been in the country, I’ve talked to some players for them to either play football or go out drinking; they can’t do both,” he said. “Players getting suspended from Ba on the eve of a major game is disappointing for the district.
“Those players with repeated offenses should be kept out of soccer for two years so that they realise what they are missing and hopefully when they do come back, they change their attitude.”
Five players tested positive for drugs, believed to be marijuana, at the recent INKK Mobile Battle of the Giants tournament.
Masi believes Fiji FA should intensify their random check policy, which he said was not implemented during his time.
“I think it is the individual player’s discipline, respecting the game that is one thing that we lack,” he said. “In terms of development, I think Fiji Football is on the right track. I think I have heard from a lot of people and from the president they are doing the right job.”