Thu, 08 Feb 2018 11:17:52 +0000
By Augustin Phiri
IF there is a football club in Zambia with that rare relentless sparkle of support for their team, it’s the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) former Super League side, City of Lusaka also fondly called City Yamoto – the blazing city.
For, whether City Yamoto is the victor or the vanquished after the gruelling 90-minute football match does not matter, the fans draw equal joy and amusement in both situations.
You see, it is common norm for some soccer fans to go agog only when their team triumphs and develop gloomy faces when it loses. But this is not the case with City Yamoto supporters.
“Did you see that immaculate goal our boy scored? That was Brazilian style,” a fan would tell fellow City supporters.
“That goal is super international class,” another would say with pride in support.
“The boy dazzled the goalkeeper into diving in the wrong direction,” another supporter marveled with no mention made to the four goals City had conceded.
At this point, a passerby catching the conversation would be deceived into believing that City had won the matches when in fact not.
Instead, the Chilenje boys were the ones who had lost 1 – 4 to ZANACO (11 October 2017) and by the same score line to ZESCO (29 October 2017). But the City devotees repeatedly recited with passion the two lone goals their boys had netted though in defeat. In sharp contrast, their counterparts some 500 kilometres away near the black mountain in Kitwe behave totally different. They insult, harass and even beat up their own players when they lose football matches especially those played at their Chilata home ground, the stadium fenced with iron roofing sheets.
However, the management wrangles over the ownership of Woodlands Stadium is cheerless and does not in any way reflect that amiable football atmosphere at City Yamoto.
Not two or three but even four or five management factions are separately claiming ownership of City of Lusaka Football Club all to the chagrin of the supporters and the soccer fraternity at large.
Formed in 1937, City Yamoto is one of the oldest football outfits in Zambia with its black and white jersey reflecting the multi-racial composition of players before and after independence in 1964.
That said, it is consoling that solutions to the squabbles at City are not far-fetched. Hence, in keeping with the Christian nation spirit, conflict resolution strategies should go the Biblical way.
Just round up all the warring factions and take them to the refurbished and renamed Vodafone Woodlands Stadium. Then tell them that the structure would be cut into two and shared between them.
Watch the proceedings carefully at this stage.
The faction which would indicate that they go along with the suggestion to dissect the structure should be ordered to leave the stadium immediately.
But the warring group which would disagree with the proposal and instead surrender ownership to avoid destroying the ground should be regarded as the genuine owners and should be given the right of ownership, period.
Remember the Bible story involving two mothers who claimed ownership of a baby?
The woman who agreed to divide the body of the disputed child so it could be shared by the warring women was found to be a fake mother.
The rival woman who refused vehemently to have the child killed, divided and shred by the two was found to be the biological mother and was given the baby.
So, what would stop this conflict resolution strategy from succeeding at City Yamoto?
However, in the event that it fails, the second option would definitely do.
Just round up those warring characters and let them play a game of football in the same Vodafone Woodlands Stadium with our most competent FIFA referee, Janny Sikazwe as the umpire.
The team, no not the team, the faction that would win this match should be allowed to take up ownership of the club, period.
Thus done, there is no doubt in my mind that the exasperating, irritating and annoying quarrels at Vodafone Woodlands Stadium would cease once and for all for the betterment of the good game of football in Lusaka and Zambia as a whole.
You see, despite its poor showing in the elite league undoubtedly caused by management infighting, City of Lusaka has attracted many admirers even across our borders and one such fan is Raila Odinga, the opposition leader in that East African country of Kenya.
Being an avid follower of the embattled Zambian club, Mr Odinga, head of the National Super Alliance (NASA) has copied the City’s football playing tactics.
You saw last week, Mr Odinga used the City Yamoto Special to swear himself as “president of the people” of the Republic of Kenya, emulating some characters at Woodlands who have unilaterally declared themselves as the rightful owners the troubled Lusaka Football Club.
Ironically, Mr Odinga had boycotted the presidential re-run elections won by President Uhuru Kenyatta for the second term in office.
Two groups of people including the one led by incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta are at the same time claiming ownership of the grassing land in Kenya all because of those selfish individuals at City Yamoto.
Look, disputes in football are common but those squabbles of ownership of City Yamoto and its infrastructure is rare in Zambia. Agreed coaches have been sacked for alleged poor performance while some players have revolted over unpaid allowances, among other disputes.
In some cases, football officials have been suspended and eventually expelled from executive committees for allegedly flouting club or national association rules.
Look, at the international stage, we have heard of Zimbabwe’s national football team players who had refused to board a flight for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Gabon in a dispute over unpaid allowances and winning bonuses in 2010.
Among grievances, the players rejected $1,000 appearance fees and demanded $5,000 instead. They also demanded $150 daily allowances for locally-based players and $500 for foreign-based players instead of $50 and $100 respectively they were offered.
The team was due to fly together to Cameroon to play a friendly before proceeding to Libreville.
It had to take intense meetings with the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), to calm down the situation and convince the players to agree to go and play.
In recent years, Kenya soccer officials went on an all-expenses paid trip to the United States, leaving the national soccer team – the Harambee Stars – without any means of going to play a match in neighbouring Uganda.
The Kenyan government had to fork out US $10,000 in tax payers money to get the team to the African Nations Cup hosted in Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s backyard garden.
Similarly, the Nigerian government was forced to use taxpayer’s money during the World Cup played in South Africa a couple of years ago to bail out the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s national team, from an accommodation fix.
The Nigeria Football Federation had booked the team into a cheap hotel in South Africa, costing only US $100 a night when FIFA had given the federation US $400 for each player per night. Nigeria was knocked out in the first round.
Additionally, when former England coach Glen Hoddle was asked to coach the Super Eagles and was offered a contract worth US $1 million, he was told by the Nigerian Football Federation officials that it would be announced as US $1.5 million, with the profit to be shared amicably among the individuals involved.
Hoddle rejected this and he went public to scuttle the deal.
The South African Premier Soccer League is said to be the seventh best funded leagues in the world. It is supported by ABSA, one of the leading banks, SAB Miller, internationally the fourth largest brewer, the satellite Supersport channel and a number of other banks and corporations, whose donations together amouned to about US $300 million over a five year period from 2007.
In the run up to the World Cup in South Africa, R64 billion (almost US $1 billion) was spent. Stadiums which were originally expected to cost the taxpayer R2.3 billion (US $325 million) cost nearly eight times that.
You may say that the examples cited are at national level and thus not in line with the subject matter .
But the bone of contention is that money with an element of corruption might be at play in the dispute at City Yamoto. For, how can one explain the sudden eruption of conflicts coming in the wake of newly found gold?
Let us do something and let God help to resolve disputes at City Yamoto before the opening of the 2018 soccer season.
Disclaimer: Note that this piece is satire based on real life situations and should be treated as such.