If José Mourinho did it, seemingly, so can everyone else. But two wrongs don’t make a right.
Premier Soccer League (PSL) coaches lately seem to be following in the footsteps of Mourinho and some of his less admirable actions as a coach.
In 2010, while still at Real Madrid, the Portuguese tactician was accused of instructing his players Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso to deliberately get yellow cards, which ruled them out of the final round-robin match against Auxerre but left them clear for participation in the next round.
Now the same underhandedness is playing itself out in the Absa Premiership, with ever more players getting themselves dubious yellow cards so they can miss less important games.
It seems clear to me that if you do something wrong deliberately to gain a benefit, you are bringing the game into disrepute.
This week, four Maritzburg United players – David Booysen, Deolin Mekoa, Brian Onyango and Philani Zulu – who were all on three yellow cards each going into their game against Bidvest Wits midweek, received bookings in the space of 13 minutes, meaning they will be forced to sit out the club’s next fixture – a Nedbank Cup tie against Black Leopards.
They will return, slates wiped clean, for United’s next league fixture, against Golden Arrows. With United’s priority being to avoid the drop to the National First Division, they obviously see the Nedbank Cup tie as less important than retaining their league status.
And coach Ernst Middendorp clearly did not see anything wrong with their actions when he said: “Steve Komphela at Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns, Wits – everybody is doing it.
“You want to blame me now that we use this Black Leopards game to have the players available for the very important next game against Golden Arrows … no, sorry, they got yellow cards, and now they’re suspended for the Leopards game.”
United are indeed not the only culprits, as Middendorp rightfully argued that Chiefs have done it and so have other clubs.
But it seems no one in management’s posh offices cares. Even though what clubs are doing is wrong, all they care about is themselves. They disregard the rules and it seems league officials are tacitly encouraging this, as they have kept quiet.
But to me, this is a form of match-fixing and should be nipped in the bud.
According to the dictionary, match-fixing is the action or practice of dishonestly determining the outcome of a match before it is played. It occurs as a match is played to a completely or partially predetermined result, violating the rules of the game and often the law.
Going into a match knowing that you will get a yellow card is a predetermined decision and should be classified under the banner of match-fixing. How does one, in good conscience, instruct players to get deliberate cautions? Play that results in a yellow is, by definition, dangerous – so you are in effect telling a player to make a conscious decision to possibly injure an opponent.
Who do you blame? Is it the player who goes out to get a yellow card deliberately, or the coach who instructs him to?
If a player can get a card deliberately, as an instruction from the coach, then he could just as easily be persuaded to throw a match. How do you live with your conscience, knowing you committed a sin like that?
Club bosses are also to blame for allowing this to happen under their noses. I swear some of these instructions come directly from the top.
As much as they are quick to shift the blame if someone does it, they should look no further than the offices where the instructions are given.
It is about time the league did something about this, as it is becoming a habit.
The Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) inserted a clause in their rulebook after it emerged that players were deliberately picking up yellow cards to serve bans for less important matches. The PSL’s silence, however, is deafening.
Uefa ruled that players would receive a “suspension for two competition matches or for a specified period for clearly receiving a yellow or red card on purpose”.
Mourinho was slapped with a one-match ban from the Champions League. He was also fined the equivalent of about R500 000.
But our league has turned into a toothless bulldog – even when there are clear cases of misconduct and disregard for the rules.
They are quick to throw the book at coaches who speak their minds but are quiet on misconduct that is there for everyone to see. Players and coaches are cheating blatantly and they must be punished, for the sake of fair play.
. Follow me on Twitter @TimspiritMolobi