‘Ja, we had to do what we had to do. If you want to keep going with the [race to win the] league title, you don’t want to have four players on three yellows – it’s not gonna help you. It’s not that we’re delaying. No, we don’t delay the game.
“So we had to do what we had to do, everybody does it [cheating]. We can get the criticism, we know it’s gonna come, but everybody does it … Everybody does it, it doesn’t look nice, but we had to do what we had to do.
“Sorry about the ugly play, but we’re fighting for the league. It’s the survival of the fittest.”
This is how Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane justified why his players deliberately picked up yellow cards so they would miss Sunday’s Nedbank Cup match against ABC Motsepe League side Vaal University of Technology. Sundowns were victorious, winning 2-0 in Atteridgeville.
Now that is clever. But is this against the sporting principles and the Fifa Fair Play Code?
Pitso hides behind the statement that “everybody does it”, but that does not make it right.
This is cheating, finish and klaar!
If a player has four yellow cards, he/she misses the next game and the record cleared, so they start on a clean disciplinary slate.
Cheating is defined as “acting dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage”. Anyone who goes out of their way to deliberately gain an unfair advantage is a cheat, and this cannot go unpunished.
Just to refresh your memory – if a player has four yellow cards, he/she misses the next game and the record cleared, so they start on a clean disciplinary slate.
So what happens is that players who are on three yellow cards deliberately earn a fourth one, and this is what happened when Sundowns met Bloemfontein Celtic in a league fixture at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Sundowns players were not the first ones to deliberately earn themselves yellows. It’s true that everybody does it, but the person who gives instructions for the players to get a yellow and the players themselves are at fault.
What exactly is fair play, anyway? Is it professional to behave like this?
No coach wants to lose their star players in key matches, so they strategically mess with the system. For Pitso, it’s a case of “if you can’t beat them, join them”. But this is not fair play.
What exactly is fair play, anyway? Is it professional to behave like this? What is professionalism in sport, particularly in football? Is there such a thing, or is it all about winning at all costs?
Pitso must answer all these questions. Not so long ago, he was complaining about Baroka FC goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze deliberately wasting time. He also accused Orlando Pirates midfielder Fortune Makaringe of showboating.
Now Pitso thinks that what benefits him is correct.
During Wednesday’s game, players were clearly carrying out instructions from the bench.
What really disappointed me was the involvement of captain Hlompho Kekana. Remember, these are the role models that youngsters look up to. But what kind of message are they sending to those who idolise them? Basically, they are saying it’s okay to cheat.
Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
Football is all about tactics – on and off the field – and whoever gets them right wins matches, right? It is all about how coaches play their cards, excuse the pun.
However, this wayward behaviour translates into winning at all costs.
The PSL disciplinary committee needs to act against offenders to stamp out this bad behaviour. The cheating will not stop unless the authorities intervene.
European football controlling body, Uefa, is already nipping instances of unfair play in the bud.
During last season’s Champions League, Real Madrid’s captain Sergio Ramos was charged for getting himself booked on purpose in a match against Ajax Amsterdam.
The defender was handed a two-match ban by Uefa for deliberately getting himself cautioned.
Match officials should also know better. They should go to matches armed with stats so that they are know when these things are happening. They should add more time for time-wasting than issue yellow cards if players are purposefully asking to be booked.
Will the coaches and players accuse the referees of not showing them yellows?
Now it’s up to the PSL to root out this unsporting behaviour that is tarnishing the image of the beautiful game.
The fact that nothing was done before doesn’t mean things can’t be done now. It’s never too late to take action.
Something has to be done – and that must happen now.