Football in South Africa continues to be held to ransom by disgruntled supporters.
At the weekend, after defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns were held to a 1-1 draw by Maritzburg United at Loftus, a group of rowdy fans hurled abuse and objects at coach Pitso Mosimane.
It was yet another ugly scene in a scenario that has become all too commonplace in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
The Sundowns situation, truth be told, is an exercise in stupidity. Let’s unpack it.
In 2012, then-Sundowns coach Dutchman Johan Neeskens needed a police escort to escape the stadium from the fury of the Pretoria club’s supporters. They proceeded to chant “We want Pitso”…
The club’s management relented. Nees-kens was fired, and Pitso Mosimane was appointed.
Last season, after assembling a squad containing some of the country’s best talent, Mosimane won the PSL title. There was much joy in Pretoria. Now, after a defeat in the MTN8 and a draw in the opening league fixture, Mosimane is suddenly not good enough.
Really? Who are these fans? Where were they last season?
Mosimane afterwards responded by saying the fans have a right to make their voice heard if they are unhappy: “I respect the fans, they pay our salaries, they can say whatever they want to.”
That may be so, but the Sundowns coach is probably just being diplomatic, because even his club disagreed as they sent out a statement that read: “The club is embarrassed by the behaviour of a minority group of supporters.
“It brings the club into disrepute and has a negative and destabilising effect on the players.
“We are in the process of identifying the individuals responsible and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against supporters.”
Ajax Cape Town coach Roger de Sa, while agreeing that something needed to be done about unruly fans, also had another opinion on the matter.
“Look, as a football coach, there is always pressure from supporters,” said De Sa. “It’s been going on for far too long, but, then again, the PSL allows it. I guess we are just waiting for the next incident, until someone gets hit with a brick … and what then?
“But let’s look at it another way. Taking it from my point of view… over the weekend, Sundowns’ Mame Niang elbows a player in the box, the referee awards a penalty, but doesn’t red-card Niang. He will play against us tomorrow.
“Nazeer Allie is red-carded against AmaZulu for a tackle. He won’t be available to me tomorrow. Where’s the consistency?
“So while Pitso is interrogated on television about the drawn result and the behaviour of the supporters, the referee is having a nice, warm shower. Perhaps we are asking the questions of the wrong people.” - The Star