Lest we forget: players and their fans

15 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Lest we forget: players and their fans

The Sunday News

Simba Jemwa, Sunday Life Correspondent
FOOTBALL loves a good fight as do its players and fans.

But an effort is always made for a good, clean fight!

And yes, this does sound a little utopian and an antinomy (a contradiction of two statements that appear equally reasonable).

But if utopia is to dare to dream of a return to the good, clean fights that have made our football what it is, then utopia is what our game needs right now.

Eleven years ago, Zimbabweans woke up to shocking news that the nation had been used in a conspiracy to fix matches involving the “national team”.

While the spectre of match fixing was often whispered within the corridors of the local game for years, nothing as mammoth as the Asiagate match fixing scandal was ever imagined possible by most.

Allegedly fronted by a known global player in match fixing, Rak Perumal, the scandal saw the national team travelling on several occasions to Asia and playing matches mostly in Malaysia that were fixed and resulted in Zimbabwe falling in the Fifa world rankings.

Not only did it suck in players, administrators and perhaps most distressing for the game was the alleged involvement of a sports journalist who was eventually banned.

A few years later, local football again fell prey to match fixing when administrators and referees were implicated in what became infamously known as Centralgate.

As Zimbabwean football battles to survive a Fifa ban from football activities after the Sports and Recreation Commission suspended the board and replaced it with a restructuring committee, football fans in the country wonder if indeed Zimbabwe is fated to struggle to grow the game.

Memories of the damaging match fixing scandals will forever haunt local football as will the Fifa ban.

While many acknowledge that the Zifa board made some errors during its tenure, some more damaging than others, purists of the game believe it should have been left to enshrined statutes to rid football of any and all bad apples.

These voices have refused to accept the SRC’s insistence that its decision to suspend the board was well founded.

Today as the crisis continues to unfold, the two sides of the fence have been having at it on available media platforms including main stream media and social media.

And as the battle rages on, some of the conspirators involved in the two most damning scandals to hit the shores of this country have also become bit players in the Zifa-SRC-Fifa saga.

Depending on which side of the fence one has chosen to sit on, barbs are being thrown around with reckless abandon.

More profound is the ‘violence’ in the arguments being proffered and the subsequent personal attacks on persons seen as having been on the side of the suspended board, or seeking a middle of the road solution.

But what is clear as day to any and all neutrals in this fascinating power play, it must be remembered that none of the game’s antagonists actually own this ‘thing’ called football.

They cannot continue to posture while the real owners of the game: the players and their fans wallow in misery and stand unknowing of what tomorrow holds for their beloved sport.

MPs have voiced their views not just in Parliament but reportedly in closed meetings with key actors in local sport, all in an effort to find middle ground.

But yet no one whose opinions are premised for the good of the game has had the good sense to seek the counsel from players and their fans.

It’s no longer about who is right or wrong.

It’s now a question of who shouts the loudest, who wants to throw mud at any perceived antagonist, while soccer players and fans watch on the side-lines.


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