Our players have to be accountable

2011-10-23 10:00
S'busiso Mseleku
It was English poet and satirist Alexander Pope, who lived between 1688 and 1744, who advised us that “to err is human, to forgive divine”.

Now that South African Football Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani has taken the “opportunity to unreservedly apologise to the entire nation, our government and our sponsors, for the failure by Bafana Bafana to qualify for the Afcon finals scheduled for Equatorial Guinea and Gabon early next year” it is time to ask some serious questions and inculcate a culture of accountability.

With due respect to the Queensbury rules that warn against kicking a man when he is down, while we accept the overdue apology, here are some questions that beg answers:

»?Why was this not done immediately after the Mbombela Stadium debacle?

» Is the apology genuine or was it issued to appease the minister of sport, who had labelled Safa a “disgrace”?

» Why were Pitso Mosimane and Siphiwe Tshabalala not present at the press conference when the apology was issued?

Surely if people are accountable for their deeds, it would not be a mountain too high to climb for Safa to summon a man it is said to be paying R800?000 a month – which translates into R9.6?million a year and will total R38.4?million at the end of his four-year contract – to a press conference.

Such salaries should come with responsibilities and this includes press conferences, no matter how difficult they are expected to be.

So Pitso should be at Safa’s beck and call and must not ask why when told to jump, just how high.

Tshabalala, who captained the team on the day and led his charges in that infamous dance after the game, should have been summoned as well.

Given that Nematandani has eventually acted like a man – though a tad too late – all those responsible should have been there.

South African professional players are some of the most spoilt brats you will ever come across. For them, playing soccer is all about money without any responsibility.

You should see how they go gallivanting even after their teams – whether Premeir Soccer League or national – have lost.

This must end. People must be taught to be responsible and accountable for their deeds.

Some of them go out onto the field of play and huff and puff through 90 minutes with utter disregard for the supporters who pay their hard-earned cash to attend games and provide an income for these brats and their bosses who employ them.

A culture of responsibility and accountability must be instilled in players from an early age.

Until this is nipped in the bud, players will continue to think of themselves as demigods who believe that they deserve the millions they earn even if they don’t raise a sweat.

How many times have we heard of players gaining a massive amount of weight once they join big clubs and believe that they have arrived? It is at such times that they start partying and drinking as if there is no tomorrow. There must be measures in place for such indiscretion.

Over time we have been too harsh with soccer bosses while being too soft on the players, to the detriment of soccer and the country. It is high time our players were taught what it means to represent your country.

Otherwise how do we explain Libya, whose Brazilian coach paid for his travels from his own pocket and had part-time players participating in the ongoing uprising, but who qualified for the Afcon finals nevertheless?

Something has got to give.