What exactly is fair play? Is it fair play when a parent club that pays a portion of a player’s salary bars him from playing against them? Is it fair play when the parent club pays a portion of a player’s salary and he plays and scores against them? Which should be the case?
Is there fair play in sport, particularly in football?
The big question is: Should loaned players be allowed to play against their parent clubs?
This issue came to mind again this week after it emerged that Mamelodi Sundowns had inserted a clause that prevents Jeremy Brockie from playing against them.
Brockie is on loan to Maritzburg United for a season, but he is still a Sundowns player.
As it is, the New Zealander won’t play against his parent club on Saturday and his debut for United could be delayed to a week later against Chippa United.
Brockie has not been part of Pitso Mosimane’s plans for some time now and has been banished to the stands. He was said to be injured – something he vehemently denied.
If he was not good enough to feature for the Brazilians, why is he suddenly good enough not to play against them? Are they scared of a player they did not value when he was there?
A few seasons ago, Sundowns decided to discontinue this practice and allowed their loaned players to play against them.
This issue has always triggered divided opinions on the matter.
While some say the parent club is correct to say their player can’t play against them, others believe it is not fair.
Personally, I don’t believe loaned players should have a restriction regarding who they play against – although there are pros and cons in this.
As much as they still have contracts with their original clubs, they are now doing duty for someone else who needs their services at that moment and who actually values them at that time.
The problem with this whole situation is the perception of the player and his performance on the day, isn’t it?
If he plays badly, people will accuse him of not going all out against his parent club and, if he plays well, the supporters will still complain.
Loanees generally don’t face their parent clubs, but when they do, things can get slightly awkward.
Imagine a situation where his club needs a win at all costs against his parent club and he is not allowed to play.
Who will be the biggest loser in this instance?
Again, imagine a situation where his parent club needs all the points and he goes on to score an own goal.
How will this be interpreted?
European football governing body Uefa doesn’t allow any stipulations prohibiting players on loan from playing against their parent club.
But in the UK’s Premier League, loanees do not play against their parent club – a rule introduced after Lomana LuaLua, on loan from Newcastle United, scored a late equaliser for Portsmouth in 2004.
Later, LuaLua apologised to Newcastle fans after the game and the fallout after his goal led to the loan system in the Premier League being changed so players could no longer play against their parent clubs.
Players go out on loan to seek playing time and you cannot deny them this opportunity because they were deemed surplus to requirements at their original clubs.
All I know is that, when playing against your team, you go all out to prove a point.
You play like a man possessed to show them what they are missing.
But denying you that opportunity to exploit their weaknesses is not ayoba.
So please stop this nonsense and let them play. Now that’s what will be deemed fair play.
Follow me on Twitter @TimspiritMolobi