Sharuko on Saturday
IN the past few weeks this newspaper, in general, and myself in particular, have been at the end of a barrage of attacks from some people who believe that we are either boosting, or fronting, the cause of Philip Chiyangwa to be the next ZIFA president.
There have even been some wild suggestions that we are being paid by the Harare businessman to boost his profile, and appeal, among those who vote for the ZIFA president and — among his fiercest critics — we have been applying lipstick to a frog so that it wins the Miss World Beauty contest.
In the unregulated arena of social media, where fury rules, we have even been dubbed later day Judas Iscariots, the merchants of doom who are selling their soul for a few pieces of silver to parachute a hopeless character into becoming the leader of domestic football.
The fact that we don’t vote in the elections has either been conveniently ignored, or deliberately overlooked, to push the agenda that, indeed, we are fighting in Chiyangwa’s corner and, because of that imaginary backing that we are lending him, he is going to be the next ZIFA boss.
That Bra Gee, in his witty and very influential column that is published in this newspaper every Saturday, was highly critical of Chiyangwa’s bid for the ZIFA presidency, only last week, tearing it to pieces and suggesting that the businessman was a flashy replica of the infamous Cuthbert Dube, complete with selfies and videos, has been conveniently ignored because acknowledging it would dilute the poison that the conspiracy theory has been spitting that we are, indeed, backing him to land that post.
The fact that we ran Lovemore Gijima Musindo’s piece, on the back pages of this newspaper this week, in which the pioneer black football administrator rallied ZIFA Councillors not to be wooed by “riches and flamboyance”, which as a direct attack on Chiyangwa’s candidature and flashy bid to become the leader of domestic football, has been deliberately overlooked.
That we have published scores of text messages from our readers, who have savaged Chiyangwa’s candidature, on our leader pages, has been conveniently ignored by those who claim that we are pushing the agenda to have the Harare businessman endorsed as the next ZIFA boss next month.
That Chiyangwa has even turned into a subject that other newspapers have published on their front pages, where he has talked about his wealth and good looks and why he believes these two factors have created any army of critics who don’t approve of his candidature for the ZIFA presidency, while we have only kept him on the sports pages of this newspaper, has seemingly escaped the attention of those who have been vicious in their criticism of us.
That my Daily News colleague, Tinotenda Panashe, who writes a weekly column from South Africa that is published every Saturday in that newspaper, even went to the extent of endorsing Chiyangwa as his preferred candidate in the ZIFA elections, has not caused any furore among those who have been baying for our blood saying that we are campaigning for the businessman, even when we haven’t declared, and will never declare, our preferred candidate.
The fact that my good brother Panashe even said that one of his reasons he wanted Chiyangwa to win was because he believes that, if he wins the ZIFA presidency, he will whip “the overzealous state media” into a position where we just can’t criticise the leader of domestic football, because doing so would result us being “fired” from our job, thanks to the businessman’s political connections, has seemingly escaped the scrutiny, or disapproval, of those who have been throwing tonnes of bricks in our direction.
When we plunged into the trenches, when others didn’t dare do it, and took the leadership role in fighting the ZIFA leadership led by Cuthbert Dube, simply because we felt that they had become a cancer to our football, relentlessly devouring our national game, the voices of the same critics who have found it fashionable to criticise us now, were nowhere to be heard.
It was a brutal battle, there were casualties along the way, some of our reputations took a battering as the hugely unpopular football regime fought back viciously, but that did not stop us from fighting for what we believed was right for our football.
And, when that hugely unpopular football leadership collapsed in spectacular fashion last months, when it dawned on Dube that the time to go had come, with the old man looking dazed — like George Foreman after having been knocked by Muhammad Ali in that Rumble in the Jungle showdown in 1974 — we didn’t claim ownership or credit for that because there was no need to do that given we were merely doing our job.
Neither did we ask why we were not being given credit, by the very people who were now celebrating the collapse of a leadership plucked from hell, which had held our football bondage for five years and taken us back to the Stone Age, because it wasn’t important for us to demand such credit.
THE IRONY THAT CONTINUES
TO BAFFLE ME
Reading some of the vicious attacks that have been directed towards this newspaper, in general, and myself in particular, as the battle for the ZIFA presidency intensifies, I have found it interesting that there are some people who will always have the best of both worlds.
These people are the first to say that they don’t read The Herald, accusing this newspaper of allegedly being a propaganda machinery that is not worth a second of their attention, yet they are the first to say why we are not fighting a certain battle, as and when it suits their interests.
The very people who are first to say that we are not an influential newspaper, and they have long stopped reading anything that we publish, are also the very first to attack us that we are not fighting this and that battle, whenever it is supposed to suit their interests.
How they believe that a newspaper, which today they dismiss as irrelevant, can tomorrow suddenly assume such influence that it can help fight certain battles, is one of the ironies that continues to baffle me.
When it suits them, they are there to shout, loud and clear, that we are a newspaper that has lost relevance and, no matter what we publish, it won’t influence anything, and — when it then suits their interests — they are there to shout, loud and clear, that we are a very, very newspaper that should always lead the way.
They even claim that it’s a newspaper whose journalists are discredited and, when it suits their interests, they want their so-called “discredited” journalists to plunge into the trenches and fight in their corner.
They want to have their cake and eat it too.
Of course, we have never lost sleep over that, conscious of our leadership role, and we have tried to discharge our duties as professionally as might be possible and, when we are attacked for not doing something, we take it as a complement that they are acknowledging that we can help make a difference.
However, the point is that the ball — when it comes to electing the next ZIFA president — lies in the court of the Councillors, the people who have the mandate to do that, and no matter how much we disagree with them, and we have been highly critical of them, it’s a fact that they wield that power.
Last year, when we were highly critical of Cuthbert Dube, in the countdown to the ZIFA elections, the same Councillors still gave him another fresh mandate, by more than 70 percent, to retain his post as the leader of domestic football.
For seven years, Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t speak to the BBC because he was unhappy that the corporation — with a global outreach — had tarnished the image of his son, Jason, a football agent, in one of their programmes.
The fiery Scot, the greatest manager in the history of Manchester United, didn’t talk to the BBC or appear in any of the corporation’s programmes, between 2004 and 2011, all the time demanding that the BBC apologise for their attack on Jason.
“I think the BBC is the kind of company that never apologises, and they will never apologise, they are arrogant beyond belief,” said Ferguson.
Even though Fergie wasn’t speaking to the BBC, it didn’t stop him from inspiring Manchester United to league championship success in 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009, 2010/2011 and 2012/2013, winning the FA Cup in 2003/2004, the League Cup in 2005/2006, 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 and becoming European champions in 2008.
The impasse ended in 2011 when both parties agreed to “let bygones be bygones”, and Fergie started to grant interviews to the BBC Match of the Day and the corporation’s other football programmes on Radio 5 Live.
Surely, if the media was the be-all-and-end-all, when it came to influencing who emerging victorious, when it comes to football, Fergie would not have emerged triumphant, in all those years when he was fighting the BBC, and was describing the corporation as being “arrogant beyond belief.”
Sepp Blatter would have fallen way back, rather than needing sting operations from the FBI, if the media was very, very influential in deciding who should, and who should not be in charge of world football, and his time in a Swiss hospital, for stress-related problems, would have come a long time ago.
ARE WE REALLY A
Against the background that we are the only ones missing from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, I have been receiving a lot of enquiries from a number of people who have been asking if we are, indeed, a football nation.
My answer has been the same that, of course, we are a football nation and the fact that we are victims of the failings of those that we put in positions of authority, to drive our national game, doesn’t in any way suggest that we are not a football nation.
The fact that we have been let down by the very people that we invested all our trust in, to take our national game forward, to the extent that we suffer the humiliation of being the only African nation missing from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, does not in any way suggest that we are not a football country.
And one just needs to look at the Harare Derby that was played last week, a game that found itself being drowned by the politics of the ZIFA elections even Alois Bunjira cried, loud and clear, that it had been given a raw deal by newspapers who should, ordinarily, have been making it the biggest story on their back pages, but somehow flexing its muscles to draw thousands of fans to Rufaro, to see that we are a truly football nation.
Even without the normal pre-match coverage that the Harare Derby usually generates, when it is the dominant subject in local newspapers, we all saw its pulling power as thousands of fans flocked to Rufaro for the showdown.
Even against a background where there was virtually nothing at stake, with the league championship race being fought elsewhere, we saw the incredible pulling power of the Harare Derby with thousands of fans converging at Rufaro for the showdown.
Even after it had become apparent, long before the game, that the Glamour Boys would not be crowned champions of domestic football — for the fifth straight year running — we saw thousands of the team’s fans converging at Rufaro for the showdown against their eternal rivals.
Even with CAPS United having long tumbled out of the championship race, we saw the incredible pulling strength of the Harare Derby as thousands of their fans converged at Rufaro for the battle against their biggest rivals.
That huge crowd at Rufaro was a demonstration, if ever our football wanted one, that it’s a game that has a big following, whose fan-base is alive and well, and who deserve better, from their leadership, because they are a special breed of people.
That colourful atmosphere at Rufaro last Sunday was a demonstration, if ever our football wanted one, that it’s a game that is alive and well, when it comes to the fans who follow it, and what is needed is just the right leadership for it to become a complete package.
To imagine that all those people still love this game, even against the heartbreak of their teams’ failure in the championship race, and the fact that their country has suffered the humiliation of being expelled from the 2018 World Cup, is a huge advertisement that this is a truly football nation.
To God Be The Glory
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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