No Place For Violence In Our Game
Two violent incidents put a damper on South African football this past weekend, a weekend that was filled with so much to celebrate.
Bloemfontein Celtic continued with their great start to the season, which saw head coach Steve Komphela and defender, Alfred Ndengane, crowned Coach and Player of the Month for August, respectively. Chippa United finally recorded their first win of the season after four failed attempts. The same thing happened with Kaizer Chiefs, who were impressive against Cape Town City and secured their first league win in six games, under coach Giovanni Solinas. What about Orlando Pirates finally breaking the voodoo with an impressive 3-1 win against SuperSport United? AmaZulu pulling off such a blinder against Mamelodi Sundowns in one of the best games of the season so far, playing to an exciting 3-3 draw. We should be celebrating Highlands Park, who finally got their first Absa Premiership win and many other teams that did well but, instead, we have to contend with violence that stole the show from one of the best football weekends so far this season.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach, Pitso Mosimane, is alleged to have punched AmaZulu’s head of security, Nathi Ngwenya, after the field invasion incident. It is reported that Mosimane took offence in the way Ngwenya handled two Sundowns supporters who had invaded the pitch before the alleged punching incident ensued. The Sundowns coach has denied any physical contact with Ngwenya, although a case of assault has reportedly been opened against him in the Umlazi cop shop. If proved true, the League has to take appropriate action and get this resolved sooner than later. There’s simply no place for violence in our game and we can’t allow such incidents to dent the image of the beautiful game.
As if the alleged incident wasn’t enough, Black Leopards chairman, David Thidiela, went on to make his frustrations against referee Victor Hlungwani known after his team’s 1-0 loss against Celtic. An audio clip of the incident has been doing the rounds on social media and I felt like burying my head in the sand, ostrich-style when I first heard the clip. To say it was an embarrassing vent would be an understatement. I get that the boss was unhappy with the match official’s performance... aren’t we all at times, after all? Yes, you have a right to complain about the referee’s performance but, as a club owner, a senior citizen and a leader, surely you should exercise caution and employ emotional intelligence at all times. It is one thing to vent your frustrations, but threatening someone else’s safety is taking things to another level. In fact, it borders on a criminal act and can incite the supporters and put people’s lives in danger.
What really floored me about Mr Thidiela’s action was the derogatory words used against Hlungwani and I can only imagine if those demeaning words were said by a white man to Hlungwani, wouldn’t we be up in arms, demanding strong action against him? I hold no brief for Hlungwani, as he is capable enough of fighting his battles and take responsibility for his performances on the field, but it is at the human level that I’m flabbergasted by Mr Thidiela’s emotional outburst and unfortunate utterances.
No one has a right to threaten and intimidate the next person in this country, let alone in our beautiful game. If anyone is unhappy, as seems to be the case with the Leopards chairman, there are procedures to follow. The letter he promised to write to SAFA and the League was supposed to be the first port of call instead of keeping things up until they reach such a boiling point. Whatever grievances he holds against Hlungwani could have been sorted out long ago. Now, whether Hlungwani was right or wrong, the focus is on Mr Thidiela’s unbecoming conduct because his action on the weekend could have far-reaching consequences.
Sport, especially football, has always been a unifying tool that helped to liberate this country from the shackles of apartheid. To hear tribal utterances that have a potential to divide our people, from someone holding such an important position in the game, is really uncalled for. What are you saying to your VaTsonga supporters and players? Don’t they mean anything to you?
Mr Thidiela is serving in the executive committee of the League and is a former security head. He’s been a loyal servant of the game and contributed immensely to Limpopo’s economy over the years. However, that doesn’t give him a licence to throw his toys out of the cot when things don’t go his way. He has to remember the bigger role he has to play in society and I really, really, hope that the clip of two minutes and 20 seconds is not a true reflection of the Leopards boss. This behaviour has to be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand and turn people against their own. We need responsible and accountable leadership in all spheres of our lives.
South Africa has become an angry country where people think violence is a solution to our problems. This phenomenon is destroying even households as it has, surprisingly, become a part of our lives. It is when people who hold high positions in our society perpetuate this horrendous behaviour that it becomes acceptable and tolerated. I hope remorse and serious action will take place against offenders. Football doesn’t need this. Football can certainly be better off without these acts of violence.
Let us all play our part in taking our football to the next level and influencing our people positively.