Thursday, November 30, 2023

Turn the other cheek or clap back?

Botswana Football Association (BFA) chief executive officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo has acknowledged receiving a complaint from Gaborone United (GU).

The report concerns the alleged unfair treatment meted to them a weekend ago while in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the return leg of the preliminary round of CAF champions league.

Now, the onus is on the BFA to see GU’s call for redressal is answered. “Our obligation is to send the report to the CAF, as it is up to CAF to decide on punishment based on our report to them,” Mfolo says.

As GU wait for CAF response, they will be best advised not to harbour any hopes for redress. Like many other prior reports of the same nature, this may be the last GU will hear of their complaint.

A host of teams from the Southern Africa, including Township Rollers have previously complained of the ill-treatment and intimidation when playing deep in the belly of Africa.

“We have made reports concerning up African clubs but it seems they are never taken up but rather thrown under the rag. GU is not the only club to make a complaint. Many clubs across Southern Africa including Mamelodi Sundown have done the same. Nothing tangible has been done yet,” Rollers team manager Motshegetsi Mafa says.

The Rollers team manager’s assertions are almost confirmed by Mfolo. The BFA CEO recalls Botswana clubs have made similar reports regarding hostile treatment by fellow Africans before. He however does not recall of any being attended to by CAF or action being taken up against the culprits of such behaviour.

According to Mafa, GU should not expect anything from their complaint. He says clubs come forth with loads of such complaints during CAF meetings. The complaints range from transportation, disappearing ball boys when host teams are winning, laser pointers and smoke flares by fans, missing balls and so on. He argues that if no action is taken, this trend will destroy the beautiful game of football in Africa.

“To show how this has gone too far, on Tuesday Brazil was facing Tunisia. Even though Brazil won 5 to 1 it was a bad game which consisted of laser pointers, racism and objects being thrown at Brazilian players including a banana thrown at Richarlison. The game had to be stopped just to speak to supporters. This reminded me of a time when eggs were thrown at the Rollers bus. The security escort stood there and did not stop its countrymen. The question now is; what is CAF going to do about this? Mafa asks.

Surprisingly, unlike in Africa, the world media has been buzzing about what happened in Tunisia seeking justice and punishment to be implemented. FIFA has since decided to carry out investigations surrounding the incident. This has prompted Tunisia to send an apology to Brazil and the world at large.

The Rollers team manager says there was a hope the unsporting mentality will stop when Patrice Motsepe ascended to CAF presidency. That hope is now seemingly fast evaporating as the unsporting behaviour still persists.

“When Motsepe was appointed, we thought issues of hostility and bad treatment towards other teams, particularly those from Southern Africa will subside. That has not been the case,” Mafa says.

“It has come to our attention that somehow CAF has a broken operating wing. Even though we are still hopeful for Motsepe to make a change, it will not be that easy as he cannot do it alone,” he says.

The issues of ill treatment of teams in CAF competitions has now caused some local football commentators to call for Southern Africa teams to dish out the same treatment and avenge themselves.

Mafa however feels that is unlikely in a nation such as Botswana and Southern Africa where botho or ubuntu (humanness) takes precedence. He says Batswana are too kind to carry out such hostile treatment. Even if they could, he believes BFA would be the first to punish and stop them.

When asked if teams should not consider ill-treating opponents as done unto them, Mfolo says it is not allowed. He says teams have to abide by FIFA Fair play regulations.


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