A CONSTITUENCY PREGNANT WITH HATERS
Sharuko On Saturday
GIVE human beings a chance to make a choice, be it in sport, the arts or even in politics, and one thing is guaranteed — there will always be controversy.
It’s part of our nature to be different, and even controversial, when choosing anything, because those differences are what really shape us as people.
If we can run a national poll of who is the greatest Zimbabwean musician of all-time, we are likely to have even 20 names coming through.
And, we won’t be surprised that there will be a sizable constituency which will say that they feel System Tazvida was the greatest even though we all know he wasn’t.
Some will even say they believe that Mr Chitungwiza, John Chibadura, is the greatest of them all even though we also all know that he wasn’t.
But, that’s the way it is, and the way it will always be, when you give people a chance to vote on anything.
It’s called democracy and it’s not a beautiful thing like trying to choose the next Miss World or the next Miss Universe.
It’s been the story of our Soccer Stars of the Year, for as long as I can remember.
And, this is why, 34 years down the line, it still doesn’t feel right that Masimba Dinyero won the gong ahead of Stanford “Stix” Mutizwa in 1989.
There are many who believe Stix is one of the finest five footballers to have come out of our country.
And, that he never won a single Soccer Star of the Year award will always be a stain which this gong will have to carry for good.
The same can be said about Sunday Chidzambwa, Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo, Madinda Ndlovu, Joseph Zulu, Tauya Murewa, Boy Ndlovu, Benjamin Zulu and many others too numerous to mention.
For us, the biggest challenge will be to explain to our boys how it was possible for Moses Chunga to win just one Soccer Star of the Year gong while Rodwell Chinyengetere has three gongs.
But, just to show that this is a human fault-line, which is not only restricted to our borders, one only needs to follow the controversy of the Ballon d’Or to realise that this is a global challenge.
This is the most prestigious individual award in football, voted for by 100 journalists from around the world but, despite its pride of place, it has had its fair share of controversy.
The choice of Lionel Messi as the 2023 Ballon d’Or was described by many as an insult to reality, a mockery to wisdom and a brazen assault on common sense.
There is still a valid argument that Erling Halaand, who scored 52 goals in 53 games, including 36 in the Premiership, and powered Manchester City to the Treble, should have been the winner.
It’s not the first time this has happened.
Luis Figo winning it ahead of Zidane in 2000, and apologising for his surprise success, Matthias Sammer taking it ahead of Ronaldo in 1996 by one point, Michael Owen winning it ahead of Raul in 2001.
EVEN THE BALLON D’OR IS FLAWED
Lionel Messi ahead of Iniesta and Xavi in 2010, after they had won the World Cup, Messi ahead of Luka Modric in 2018, Messi ahead of Virgil Van Dijk in 2019, Pavel Nedved ahead of Thierry Henry in 2003.
Igor Belanov ahead of Gary Lineker in 1986, when Maradona was ineligible because the award was then restricted to European players, Fabio Cannavaro ahead of Gianluigi Buffon in 2006 and Andriy Shevchenko ahead of Deco in 2004.
Shevchenko had just won the Italian Serie A whereas Deco won the Portuguese league, the Portuguese Cup, the Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup.
The authoritative Medium.com website even blamed “corruption and political interference with the Ballon d’Or 2023 voting process which is not impervious to external pressures and prejudices.”
That’s a damning indictment for what is supposed to be the premier individual award of excellence in world football.
It’s a song we have heard being played in this country this week after the 11 Soccer Stars of the Year were unveiled on Tuesday.
I’m no longer part of those who cast their vote for this award, that responsibility has long been handed to the young men and women of this profession.
It’s something I used to do in the ‘90s and now we have a new crop of sports journalists who, despite the heavy burden that comes with working in a social media environment, are doing as well as they possibly could.
When you look at the fury, most of it appears to be centred on just one player, Tino Benza, for being part of the list of the Soccer Stars of the Year.
The 22-year-old Herentals forward will be appearing on the Soccer Stars of the Year calendar for the second straight year.
He is just one of the two players, the other being Nelson Chadya, who have made it from last year’s list.
Even those who have been claiming they lost interest in the Soccer Stars, a long time ago, have been throwing bricks all over the show, crying foul.
For me, this shows one thing — there is still huge interest in these awards even when it’s clear that the quality of the winners has gone a notch lower.
TINO DESERVES LOVE INSTEAD OF HATE
What makes me sick, really, is this clear prejudice, which borders on hatred, against this young man simply because he carries the name of a man some guys don’t want to see in our Premiership.
To them, Tino is a creation of his father’s money, someone who isn’t good enough to make the Soccer Stars of the Year calendar.
Amazingly, the hate is even fuelled by those who never even watched one Herentals game this season for them to be in a position to judge him.
For them, it’s all about his name, which represents a symbol of something they swore to hate, for one reason or another, and this fine young man finds himself at the heart of all this nonsense.
For me, this is ridiculous.
This young man is a decent footballer, who scored six goals this season, and provided 10 assists, playing for a modest club like Herentals.
The top scorer at Dynamos, Donald Mudadi, had FIVE goals and the Golden Boot winner has 13 goals.
Tino scored the priceless goal as Herentals beat then champions FC Platinum 1-0 in Harare this season and chipped in with crucial goal, and assists, as the Students eyed a top four place.
Eventually, they finished sixth, which was a two-place improvement from last year, and only four points behind Highlanders and six points behind Dynamos.
The Students finished ahead of both CAPS United and Chicken Inn, two of the clubs who have been champions, in the past eight years.
They featured in probably the game of the season, when they came from behind to lead eventual champions Ngezi Platinum Stars 3-1 at Baobab, only for the hosts to roar back and pick a point in a 3-3 draw.
They beat Ngezi 2-1 in Harare to pick four out of a possible six points from the champions and also beat the Green Machine 2-1 in Round 17.
In all this, Tino was a big part of their success story but, when it comes to rewarding those who excelled, we want to treat him as an outcast simply because we don’t like the name on the back of his shirt.
It’s not his fault that his father continues to play for his team and neither is it his fault that his dad tends out to be a rich man.
But, if it’s easy for the kids of rich men to play football, why is it that we don’t see many of them in our game?
Scoring against FC Platinum has nothing to do with being a rich man’s son, it’s got everything to do with being a decent footballer. Don’t hate him for winning the Fans’ Choice award simply because his club, and their partners, decided to go on a blitzkrieg to vote for him. Blame the giants like Dynamos and Highlanders who never care to use the power of their numbers to fight for their players to win this award.
Tino doesn’t deserve hate, he deserves love because he is just a young man trying to make it in this game.
I know this will make me unpopular, and some will say I was bought to do this, but that’s a price I am prepared to pay to give this young man a voice of comfort in a world of haters.
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all the Chakariboys still in the struggle.
Come on Pirates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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