Thursday, July 19, 2012

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Kalusha Bwalya didn’t play alone in the Zambian team, but he always made the difference and that is why he is the legend

Kalusha Bwalya didn’t play alone in the Zambian team, but he always made the difference and that is why he is the legend
Friday, 13 July 2012 21:36

While we haven’t been blessed with a magician like Messi, we still should thank the football gods that we have been given our own Musona and I’m pretty sure the South Afric-ans, if players were traded across national teams, would have used all their money in their Reserve Bank to buy Knowledge.

Nathaniel Manheru, my political cousin when it comes to blogs in this Saturday edition of The Herald, once made an interesting observation about how wars in today’s world are both fought in and shaped by, the media.

It also rings true about the boardroom battles that are fought endlessly in sport.
The media is a very powerful tool and, in the week that the BBC World Service moved from Bush House, after more than half-a-century of broadcasting from that London location, it’s clear its global influence remains as strong as it was when the first broadcast was made from those offices 70 years ago.
On Wednesday, a year-long battle fronted by the BBC to force Fifa to make public, documents from defunct marketing firm ISL, which they claimed showed improper conduct by senior Fifa officials, was won when the Swiss Supreme Court ordered the release of the material. ISL, a Swiss-based firm that used to be given lucrative marketing rights for the Fifa World Cup finals, collapsed under a huge mountain of debt of around US$300 million.
We now know that former Fifa president, Joao Havelange, who ruled the organisation for 24 years before handing the baton to his trusted lieutenant, Sepp Blatter, was paid huge sums in bribes by ISL. We now know that Havelange received about US$1.53 million and his counterpart, Ricardo Teixeira, who used to be his son-in-law and ran the Brazilian Football Federation for ages and was a Fifa executive committee member, received about US$13 million in kick-backs.
In November 2010, the BBC’s Panorama programme made the sensational claims that Havelange, Teixeira and Caf boss, Issa Hayatou, took bribes from ISL in the 1990s. No wonder the BBC were feeling triumphant this week as they celebrated the Swiss court’s decision to publicise details of the ISL transactions.
Apparently Havelange and Teixeira had paid back £3.6m as part of a deal to end the prosecution office’s investigation on condition their identities remained a secret. Interestingly, Jennings is banned from Fifa media conferences and official functions, since publishing an article in England’s Daily Mail newspaper on March 18, 2003, claiming that Blatter paid himself a US$4 million tax-free annual bonus from Fifa. Jennings claims Fifa meets all the definitions of a Mafia organisation, with an all-powerful don at the top, surrounded “by greedy crooks”, provision of “protection” and a code of “omerta” that silences any whistleblowers through exile.
German journalist, Jens Winreich, is also banned from Fifa media conferences and official functions because of his investigative work and claims that a single vote, during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals, was being traded for US$20 million.
Jennings is winning his war with Fifa and the latest documentary dispatch from a Swiss court will be another huge setback in the organisation’s battle to try and portray itself as one that has moved away from a culture where dirty secret deals are the order of the day and accountability is an alien process that should be resisted at all costs. The British investigative journalist’s victory also brings refreshment to all the football writers in the trenches, who have been declared enemies of the game by their domestic football associations, simply because they chose to be critical and asked a lot of questions. If an organisation as huge and rich as Fifa can be battled, for the right for good to be separated from evil and beaten by the efforts of a journalist, as was the case in Switzerland this week, surely an organisation like Zifa can also be challenged if it veers off the path.
Of course, it comes at a cost, you don’t get invited to official Zifa functions, media conferences and, as my colleague Hope Chizuzu found out in Gaborone last year when he was working for Cosafa, they can also try to throw you out of a foreign country. But, as seen from the events in Switzerland this week, the little Davids of journalism can sometimes force the mighty and rich organisations running our football into submission and Jennings must be throwing a party somewhere in London right now.
The Monsters Within Us
What can’t be disputed is that in the past 28 months, the time this Zifa leadership has been in office, we have become deeply divided as a football family, split right in between and those who fear we could disintegrate even further are not dreaming.
Our football landscape has turned into one war zone, with endless battles fought just about every day, some big ones that shake the game and some small ones that disappear without a trace and the frightening thing is that there are no signs that it could all end soon. Militias have sprung into life, landmines have been planted just about everywhere, the language has become inflammatory, the atmosphere has turned hostile to such an extent that you can’t even trust someone, who used to be your friend, to hold your drink while you go to relieve yourself in a toilet.
We somehow now see enemies where we used to see friends, we see monsters where we used to see models, we now see alien and hostile creatures where we used to see familiar and friendly faces, we now see an ocean of hopelessness were we used to see a river of hope.
We now see villains where we used to see brave hearts, we now see cowards where we used to see heroes, we now see destroyers where we used to see builders and we now see destruction where all that stood were structures that showed we were moving in a certain direction. We are all to blame and no one can say this side is more culpable because, as a football community, we have all played a part in taking our game to the tip of the cliff, where all that remains is a slight push to plunge us into the darkness where the chances of recovery would be somewhere between zero and zero point zero. We have all made this culture of hatred, culture of suspicion, culture of fights, culture of them and us, fashionable even when it has been clear, from the word go, that it wasn’t taking us anywhere and it drove a dagger into the heart of our 2012 Nations Cup campaign.
Knowledge Musona, our talismanic forward, walked away from the mess last week telling us that he was done with working in a poisoned environment where there were frightening possibilities his name and crucially his game, could suffer considerable damage if he kept dancing with the wolves.
Somehow, we can’t read the signs, as ominous as they are and we have been treating Musona’s announcement that he was walking away from international football, something unprecedented in the history of our game, as a non-event.
Surely, can we sit down with our little boys, who are in primary school today and are the future of this game and have a clear conscience, 20 years from now, to tell them that we decided silence was the best way to react when Musona walked away?
Can we tell each other, in all honesty, that Musona can go to hell and, because there are thousands of other forwards in this country, including Quarter Chicken, Terrence Mandaza, you name them, we can always find a way to score goals in our next assignments?
Can we sit down, with a clear mind and declare that Musona’s absence will certainly not be felt by the Warriors in the next few weeks and months and we base our argument on the fact he wasn’t there, when they began their journey in international football in 1980 and he won’t be there, when and where it all comes to an end?
Football, admittedly, is a game played by a team and there are 11 players who all play a part, with the defensive shield as important as the offensive part of the game, but it’s a game where individuals like Musona can make a huge difference.
With them in the side, it gives the team a certain edge, without them in the team, everything looks ordinary and that we didn’t score, in the two 2014 World Cup qualifiers that Musona failed to hit the target, isn’t a coincidence. That we qualified for the final qualifier of the 2013 Nations Cup finals, on the back of the two goals that Musona scored to give us the draw that won us the duel against Burundi on the away goals rule, isn’t also a coincidence.
That all the three goals we have scored away from home in competitive games in the 2012 and 2013 Nations Cup qualifiers, against Liberia, Cape Verde and Burundi, have all been scored by one man, Knowledge Musona, isn’t also a coincidence.
That’s quality and while we haven’t been blessed with a magician like Messi, we still should thank the football gods that we have been given our own Musona and I’m pretty sure the South Africans, if players were traded for national teams, would have used all their money in their Reserve Bank to buy Knowledge. Argentina will struggle without Messi, Portugal won’t be the same without Ronaldo, once Mario Gomez’s goals dried up, Germany’s promising 2012 Euro campaign fell flat and, if he keeps his focus, Mario Balotelli will be making a huge impact for Italy. Kalusha Bwalya didn’t play alone in the Zambian team, but he always made the difference and that is why he is the legend that the whole world remembers. Peter Ndlovu didn’t play alone in the Dream Team, but he was the talisman, the man who made the difference and when the going got tough, we all looked up to him, in hushed silence at the National Sports Stadium, hoping for one final explosion. And, usually, he delivered.
Musona hasn’t reached that level, but he is only 22 and is slowly working his way there because, before we quickly forget, Peter was 30, in 2003, when he finally led to the Warriors to their maiden appearance at the Nations Cup finals.
Everyone should play their part because it’s the whole landscape that has been poisoned.
Sadly, it’s the game that suffers and the fans, who have been there for it all their life and will still be there when we have long left these leadership positions, who also bear the brunt.
Football And Controversy Are Siamese Twins
One of the things that you are guaranteed to have in football is controversy and if there are people out there who believe that it’s possible to have a controversy-free environment in this game, then they are leaving in dreamland and I can only offer them good luck.
Zifa loves sending documents and complaints to Fifa, in their battle to have a controversy-free football environment that they believe they can shape and tonnes of material have moved between Harare and Zurich in the past two years. But, interestingly, the same Fifa is always on the back foot, fighting endless battles in the boardrooms and courts, amid accusations of corruption within the very corridors of football’s world governing body.
It’s a classic case of investing all your trust, in a deaf guy, to give you a proper assessment of how much, the audio quality of a scratched Leonard Dembo CD, which was exposed to the sun, has been affected. Or, to put it mildly, asking Lovemore Matombo to be the arbitrator in a labour dispute centred on a leadership wrangle when he has failed to sort out similar challenges, on a personal level, for himself at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
Only on Thursday, Blatter addressed the world, via the official Fifa website, telling us that he knew of the bribes that were paid to Havelange and Teixeira in the ‘90s by the disgraced marketing firm, ISL and, crucially, Fifa even paid US$2.77 million to a Swiss court as a condition to have criminal proceedings dropped. Blatter’s role, in the payment of that money to ensure a criminal probe into possible embezzlement by Havelange and Teixeira were dropped, could be key in terms of establishing whether he was part of a conspiracy and, for now, that hasn’t been addressed by either the court records or the Fifa boss.
That Blatter was Havelange’s right-hand man, for the 17 years that he worked as Fifa secretary-general while the Brazilian was the head of the organisation, certainly puts the Swiss in a very compromising position with regards this scandal.
Blatter has already conceded he was the senior Fifa figure, identified in the dossier as “P1”, who “would also have known” that a one-million Swiss francs payment from ISL to Havelange was mistakenly transferred into a Fifa account. Why, for all these controversies, does Blatter still remain Fifa president, why hasn’t he been asked or forced to step down, how does he continue to hang around and why will he, as it now appears, again weather this storm? These are BIG questions we should be asking ourselves in our football family.
If Blatter, for all the allegations he has faced, was one of us and a member of the Zifa board, what chances did he have to keep hanging around and, if the head of world football can be given the benefit of doubt, until proven guilty, why are the rules so different and drastic for our own people?
The Tribal Challenges We Face
One of the sickening things that have come out of our poisoned football environment is the emergence of tribal gangs and tribal warfare and nowhere is this cancer more pronounced than on the social media sites that have been converted into war zones.
Reading some of the material that is posted on those sites and some of the horrible arguments advanced by those who contribute to the debate, you are left wondering where really are we going as a nation. Surely, what has happened to the unity that made all of us embrace the Dream Team as our golden side, where its players were Zimbabweans first and Bosso or Saints or DeMbare next, where its skipper was our leader irrespective of which team he played for?
What has happened to the way the whole nation embraced Peter Ndlovu, as the greatest footballer of his generation in this country and a leader everyone was proud of, without really looking at his surname or where he came from? Why have our current football leaders given impetus to arguments that there are tribal wars that are being fought in the game, on a national level and they haven’t even taken an initiative to address this cancer or prove those who are peddling this myth wrong?
Why is it that when they dissolve the Zimbabwe Under-23 team technical department, as they did recently, the only member they leave in that coaching staff is Peter Nkomo, leaving themselves exposed to criticism from those who argue that this has turned into a tribal showdown? Why is it that despite the gravity of comments, which Rahman Gumbo is claimed to have made at a night club in Harare, reported on the Real Soccer website and discussed extensively on Facebook, Twitter and the forums, no one from Zifa has dared to address this disturbing issue? We haven’t heard anything from the association’s spin doctors, for all the brilliance of their wizardry, despite the sensitivity of this case and the aggravation that comes from the fact that it’s something reported to have been uttered not by an ordinary man, but the national coach of this country.
They could have done this by dismissing it with the contempt it deserves, if it’s all a heap of rubbish or a product of a reporter’s imagination so fertile he could even write that Caf have just ranked the Warriors as favourites to win the 2013 Nations Cup finals, even when their qualification for that showcase hasn’t yet been finalised. Or they could have clarified certain aspects of those quotes, if they were made in the first place and put a spin to them so that they don’t come out to mean the tribal nonsense that comes out of what Real Soccer reported and what is being discussed on the social media sites and on such news websites like New
Or better still, Rahman could have come out, given that this storm doesn’t seem to die down and continues to form the basis on which some people now judge what he does and what he doesn’t and addressed a media conference to put the record straight if the guys at Real Soccer misquoted him.
Given that the Real Soccer Editor, Shepherd Mandizvidza, is a man who is known, maybe Rahman could have launched a lawsuit, to buttress his claims, if he doesn’t agree with the story, that what they reported was hogwash and make them pay a price for defaming his good name by using those tribal innuendoes.
By keeping quiet both Rahman and Zifa are giving credibility to the claims.
John Terry needed the court to clear him that he wasn’t a racist and he didn’t make any racial insults, directed to Anton Ferdinand, as had been claimed. But the police were convinced that JT made those claims and that was why they charged him and the prosecution authority in England was also convinced there was a case against Terry and that was why they let the case go through the court proceedings.
The English FA was so convinced that Terry had skipped the line, in this racism row, they stripped him of the captaincy of the national team leading to the fallout that resulted in coach Fabio Capello leaving his job.
If Terry had kept quiet, and pretended as if nothing had happened and if the authorities in England had not taken action, it’s very likely that this racism thing would have stalked the Chelsea skipper for a long time.
But, thanks to the beauty of the wheels of justice, we now know that John Terry is not a racist or, even if he is, we now know that he didn’t racially abuse Anton Ferdinand.
Who knows, if Luis Suarez’s case against Patrice Evra had gone the entire justice process, maybe the little Uruguayan, who served a lengthy sentence outside football for that, would not have been so crucified and we would be looking at him in a different light right now.
Little Letter Of The Week
Hi Rob,
I feel there is need for the media to extensively cover the issue of tribalism, which seems unresolved in our football.
Is it really there? Is the delay to appoint a substantive coach for the Warriors being derailed by tribal elements? Is Norman Mapeza a victim of tribalism? Was (Nelson) Mazivisa expelled from FC Platinum on tribal grounds? Was partnering Yogi with Gumbo results centered or a classic tribal balance act? I could go on and on but the point remains there is more than what meets the eye – and certainly more than just simple football administration.
Nigel Nyamutumbu (Kabila)
Information Officer, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
To God Be The Glory!
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

l The only people mad at you for saying the truth are those living a lie. Keep saying it.

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