Vitriol, obscenities and threats

Independent Sportview with Darlington Majonga

NEVER before in my life has so much vitriol, obscenities and threats been targeted at me after my instalment last week. I seem to have struck a raw nerve. While some made flatt

ering comments, others attacked me for what they deemed myopic criticism.

The ire of most readers who wrote to me seemed to emanate from failure to comprehend the three-pronged gist of my analysis of the sponsorship brouhaha involving Caps United, the Premier Soccer League and the league’s new sponsor.

Nevertheless, I still maintain that Caps owner Twine Phiri’s comments that he was considering taking his team to play in South Africa were not only incongruous but smacked of political shenanigans.

That’s when I stopped feeling sorry for Caps, who honestly were victims of the daftness inherent in the PSL executive. I wonder if Net*One would still get the mileage they want so much if Makepekepe were to cross the Limpopo.

I won’t say much this week, but will leave space to some of the many readers who responded to my contribution last week. Here they go:

*Thank you for bringing out an angle that no one else had propagated. In a well-written piece — one of the best I have read in years — you showed us that out there still exist journalists who don’t bootlick and just praise-sing to fatten their pockets at the expense of soccer.

However, I think the PSL management should take the flak for the whole fiasco. Some of us doubt if any of the football administrators has the capacity to think beyond the temporary deal they struck.

Anyway, I hope everything is sorted out soon so that we enjoy action on the field than choke on administrative politics that should have no place in soccer.

Please keep on telling it like it is.

Tania Jones

*You have just been right to the point, but you stopped short at condemning the PSL management committee as well for being naïve and poor in handling this deal.

I think some members of that management committee or clubs had informed the regime that Econet was planning to enter into that deal way back and hence Net*One did a counter-attack and got in first to ruffle the former.

The PSL did a shambolic job in not weighing the legal repercussions of the new sponsorship deal. The league executive allowed themselves to be waylaid into a crisis they could have avoided.

As for Phiri, he does not care much about the politics behind the sponsorship row and he is a willing partner.

The PSL should have used good lawyers in negotiating the deal, and the league should have asked its members for any conflict of interests. Econet could have been forewarned of its predicament in the form of its traditional enemy — the regime — waiting to throw spanners into the engine.

But as much as I know most of the guys at the PSL at the moment have no capacity to map the way forward, which is why they agreed a compromise deal likely to set a precedent that might compromise future sponsorship deals.

I can also foresee Caps United suing the PSL for winning bonuses.

Brighton Musonza

*Your article appeals for a challenge from interested parties like me.

Firstly, I think you need to be mature enough to applaud the fact that football at the end of the day came out victorious. There is nowhere in the world where you will have rivals sponsoring the game of soccer in the same league.

Secondly, there is no evidence to suggest that Caps as a football team was selfish. First it was soccer, Net*One next and then Econet. For the record, these companies at some stage were sponsoring some other disciplines.

We needed to have safeguarded the soccer fraternity right from the start by looking critically at the two proposals coming our way. Surely to accept that there will be only Econet or Net*One in soccer at the point of accepting Econet’s proposal was a mere mistake by the football administrators. There was lack of honesty in these deals.

Thirdly, this must be seen as a win-win situation for both. Phiri’s costs to run Caps have been drastically reduced by a figure higher than the expected rewards of winning the championship, which they are going to retain in my view.

This suggests to me that even Econet is trying to dupe clubs into believing that the mobile phone company is the only solution to soccer sponsorship. We would expect to be getting real sponsors to our game of soccer than what Econet is proposing to the 16 teams. We need football administrators who have the vision to drive the league forward.

On the issue of misbehaving footballers, I think you highlighted it on the wrong forum. You totally forget the fact that you are a sports reporter and went out of your way to belittle Caps players on the understanding that you were actually advised by a DeMbare supporter to include that piece of information.

The guy must have reported to the lawmakers if it is true that the players misbehaved. This is what you should have told him than to accept publishing the false claim under sports. In any case, you owe Tsungi and Elton an apology since you suggested that they shared the loot with confidence.

My friend, whether you like it or not Caps are back in the league big time and Net*One will be the main sponsor of Caps. The rewards that have been put on the table are so little to suggest some level of competition and still it does not suggest to me that our league will be degraded to social soccer status because charitable organisations will benefit at end of the day.

Remigio Nenzou

*Your article cannot go unchallenged. It is common cause that top-flight soccer has for so long been impoverished as corporate sponsors have tended to shy away from this sporting discipline.

Several teams have disappeared into oblivion for lack of sponsorship. Eagles, Mhangura/Hackney, Gweru United, Rufaro Rovers and Ziscosteel are the teams that quickly come to mind.

The same problem threatened the country’s most successful club in the post-Independence era, Dynamos, whose well-documented financial dire straits I will not dwell much on.

Highlanders are reported to be deeply in debt.

The footballing mother body, Zifa has suffered the ignominy of having property auctioned off and national teams being bailed out by the government, while the assosciation watched helplessly.

You may not be aware that the underperformance of Caps United prior to 2004 was directly linked to a lack of funds, a situation that arose after Caps Holdings shed off the team and Phiri took over. The man has a brave heart and a significant bank account, but those qualities were not enough to bring back the glory days at Caps United.

You will recall that in 2003 and the 2004 off-season Phiri was a much-maligned person because of the team’s misfortunes on the field of play. Those misfortunes were directly linked to the insufficiency of the sponsor’s funds.

While Highlanders were doing well on the field in the days of James Mangwana-Tshuma (may his soul rest in peace) and their Xylocom sponsor, Caps were singing the blues, unable to attract top talent and languishing in mid-table mediocrity.

Enter Net*One. All of a sudden a beggar became rich, quality players arrived (Ian Bakala, for example), the victories came, the swagger returned, the stadia began filling up and the roadshows began in earnest. Soccer was the winner.

Yet Caps were the flashy guys amid poor contemporaries. Do you recall the imported strip Caps donned for their home games? Net*One were the rock upon which the Caps class of 2004 was built.

Recall their end-of-year club awards ceremony? Such glamour and professionalism had a financial backer — Net*One.

I hope jealousy does not cloud people’s minds, but even Dynamos, and indeed the PSL would have loved Net*One sponsorship last season. That Net*One are a quasi-government organisation is not the issue here.

A bankrupt PSL would welcome sponsorship from anyone, but the 2005 season was fast approaching without any formal signing of a deal by the PSL executive. Desperation began to set in — remember these are the guys who survived in office by the skin of their teeth, with Tendai Madzorera in particular owing his continued tenure to Zifa chairman Rafiq Khan’s dogged support of the PSL executive. This is the same Khan who is now despised by the people he helped survive the coups of local football! But that is beside the point.

When Econet came dangling a fat carrot — against a backgound of the peanuts of yesteryear which were dished out by Natbrew — the beggar-men could not believe their luck. No one and nothing would stop them from signing the deal, and damn the consequences. After all Caps were in the minority, they were dispensable.

Let me ask you a question. Why did Net*One allow Caps to participate in the Buddie Challenge Cup, which they went on to win, donning an Econet-supplied kit with “Buddie” boldy displayed on the jerseys? Why did they not pull the team out of that competition?

The answers lie in the understanding at Net*One that a spirit of inclusivity rewards the game of football. Football brings people closer and corporate sponsors together. It is a fact that had the Buddie competition excluded Caps then that competition would have been devalued. But Net*One and Phiri let them play.

Enter Econet and their sponsorship which was always tainted by their “us and us alone” approach to a universal game. From the onset there was no reciprocal spirit from Econet to Net*One where Caps are concerned. What was the role of the PSL executive in this mess?

In the meantime, Caps players and staff were being paid without kicking a ball — that is Phiri’s commitment to the welfare of the team in particular and to Zimbabwe soccer in general.

Yet in the meantime, threats of expulsion were gathering momentum. Faced with such a prospect, astute administrators don’t fold their hands and adopt a wait-and-see attitude. It could be fatal. Remember Darryn T?

Visionaries explore the unimagined. I believe that the Caps United brand can add value to any league in southern Africa, and in South Africa the financial returns will obviously be significant. Breaking new frontiers. Think outside the loop.

Taurai Gobvu

*I strongly differ with your line of thinking that in this deal football was the loser at the end of the day. Can’t you see that this was the best possible solution for progress’ sake?

In the article it was criticism after criticism and you gave no solution. You are entitled to your opinion I know but we want constructive criticism Mr Journalist.

Gift Mushanyuri

We hope those with ears will listen. Yamwa!