THE Herald’s Senior Sports Editor Robson Sharuko has turned into a target of vicious Irish fury and was yesterday being bombarded by threats for questioning cricketer John Mooney in his crucial dismissal of Sean Williams in a key World Cup tie in Hobart, Australia. Sharuko reported yesterday of being abused on social media by furious Irish fans in the wake of the drama that has followed his report, this week which accused Mooney of robbing Zimbabwe the chance to take their fight, for a place in the World Cup quarter-finals, into the last game.
The journalist, covering the World Cup for Zimbabwe Newspapers, revealed he has been inundated with vicious threats from Irish fans who were unhappy with the way he criticised Mooney for his ghost catch on the boundary which dumped the Chevrons out of the World Cup.
In his report this week, Sharuko questioned how Mooney could be relied upon to make a fair call on his ghost catch in the wake of the challenges he has faced in his personal life recently, including a battle against alcoholism.
That has provoked a torrent of threats and, as expected, some of them were of a racial nature, while others targeted his nationality, saying how could a “poor journalist from a poor country” question, and criticise, an Irish international cricketer.
Some of the fans, who seem to have settled in Australia and New Zealand, demanded that he leave “our country” and “go back to your forest.”
“The venom has been quite severe and it has come from virtually all angles, including some who have been saying that I should get out of their country, and I can only assume these are Irish guys who have settled in this part of the world,” said Sharuko.
“Expectedly, many of them have zoomed on my endless challenges with those buffoons at ZIFA, and jumped on that meaningless ban, which our clueless football officials claim to have imposed on me in their imaginary belief that I was involved in match-fixing, something that I have challenged them to prove, using their official channels, and which they have, as expected, failed to do, three years after I launched that appeal.
“The fact that FIFA have refused to endorse their foolish, if not wild, pronouncement on me amplifies the point that theirs is tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.
“Understandably, in today’s world where Google ensures that such bad stuff, even though it might not be true, remains on your online background profile, you expect now and again people to feast on it, as some of those Irish fans have done, and use it in their warfare.”
One of the Irish fans, said Sharuko, wrote to him yesterday saying, “the same disk head that gets thrown out of football for cheating calls a recovering alcoholic a cheat because his country loses . . . F*** off out of our country and back to that s*** hole you came out of.”
Sharuko said when he replied, advising him, that he wasn’t one to be threatened, and would not succumb to the threats, and the fan suddenly appeared to cool down.
“Everyone has their problems in this life and making it harder for them doesn’t seem a way forward,” the fan replied.
“And I apologise for my language . . . but having had a son with a similar problem, my blood just boiled.”
Sharuko said, interestingly, he had suddenly become very famous in Ireland and one Irish radio station even offered him a live chat, on his coverage of the Mooney incident, in response for a payment of €80 for about four minutes.
“My name is John Reilly and I’m writing from the John Murray Show here at RTE Radio One in Dublin, Ireland,” Reilly said in his interview request.
“Hope all is well with you and you’re enjoying the cricket in Australia.
“I understand that you were most disappointed with a decision to dismiss Zimbabwe’s Sean Williams in the Ireland match and have called into question fielder John Mooney’s honesty on the incident.
“Ours is a light entertainment show and we are not interested in an interrogation, but we are hoping you are available to take a phone call with us, to convey your disappointment. We are very happy to pay you for your time.
“It will be €80 for about 4 minutes.”
While he granted them the interview, he refused to be paid.
Sharuko said despite the vicious threats, he remained unmoved.
“It’s something that comes with the terrain and I have always said that any journalist, whose work does not provoke either debate or backlash, will not be doing his job and I can assure them that I won’t be moved,” he said.
The controversial dismissal, and Zimbabwe’s subsequent loss, sparked outrage around the world with former Zimbabwe Sports Minister, David Coltart, saying it was cricket’s version of Diego Maradona’s infamous Hand of God that knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup.
Stand-in Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor, said the onus was one the fields-man even though television replays showed that Mooney had touched the boundary and a six, rather than William’s dismissal, should have been given.
“You’ve got to take his (Mooney’s) word for it,” said Taylor as his team counted the massive costs of being eliminated in such farcical fashion.
“They zoomed in, and I thought it was pretty clear. But you’ve got to take the fielder’s word.”
Cricket Ireland chief executive, Warren Deutrom, described The Herald’s article as an attack on the game in the European country.
“In relation to the story that has appeared in today’s Zimbabwe Herald, it would be easy to dismiss it as a childish diatribe if it wasn’t for the vicious personal attack on John which cannot pass without comment, and possible action,” he said in a statement.
“John represents his country with honour, distinction and integrity.
“That he does in the face of personal challenges about which he has spoken openly and movingly demonstrates incredible hard work and great courage.
“We understand, as does John, that public figures may occasionally be subject to negative comment, but in mocking John in such a contemptuous fashion, and using his personal difficulties as a mere punchline, the Zimbabwe Herald has demonstrated breathtaking crassness and a gross error of editorial judgment.
“We have made contact with ICC to understand what remedies might be available to us.”
Former Zimbabwe Sports Minister, David Coltart, a lawyer and cricket fan, questioned whether the Irish could call themselves a genuine cricket nation if they didn’t respect the spirit of the game where fielders have to be honest whether they took a clean catch or not.
“Not the same at stake but Mooney’s ‘catch’ much like Maradona’s ‘Hand of God Goal’ in 1986 Football World Cup,” tweeted Coltart.
“Let’s be quite clear about this — main fault lies with 3rd umpire Joel Wilson — very poor umpiring decision when we could all see the rope move.
“Well, Ireland, if that is what you call cricket then you just don’t know the meaning of the game.
“Tom Moody (former Aussie cricketer and now television commentator) and the rest of us could see that Mooney moved the rope.”