JOHANNESBURG – Kudos to the SA Football Players’ Union (Safpu) for finally getting their hands dirty.
This association has not been short of its critics over the last several years as PSL clubs trampled all over the rights of vulnerable players desperate to put some bread on the table and therefore being exploited as a result.
Safpu are winning the battle, but the war is far from over.
We shouldn’t really applaud someone for doing the bare minimum that they are required to do in their day job, but the union is trying to go above and beyond.
The drama at Bloemfontein Celtic is a case in point - players who have had to run begging, cap in hand and hand on heart, to the chairman’s door pleading for their salaries to be paid.
Max Tshabalala has been inconsistent with paying these wages and there’s even a rumour that coach Steve Komphela has been volunteering since he was appointed to take over from Veselin Jelusic, who quit the club because he was owed some monies.
And although the owner has only proceeded to make empty promises, Safpu have not given him a moment to exhale.
Had it not been for the union - and of course some outspoken players - it is likely that we would not have known of the injustice at the Free State-based outfit all these months.
Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe, the Safpu president, has been at the forefront, travelling to meet with the aggrieved parties to get the full story. It remains unclear how successful he has been in engaging the Celtic management because transparency doesn’t appear to be their modus operandi, but he and the association have no doubt made the right amount of noise.
It is again believed that Celtic will be under new owners soon, but again there is yet to be any confirmation of this.
Safpu should stay on their case, just as they visited disgruntled Jomo Cosmos players who were felled by the same tragedy recently.
Gates were locked at the Cosmos base as Gaoshubelwe was seen and heard in a video posted on social media unrelenting in his attempts to get to the bottom of what was really going on.
We do, however, still need to urge Safpu to not be deterred in negotiating minimum wages for PSL players. Why this is not a priority for some clubs in SA boggles the mind. How football has carried on like business as usual with owners simply ignoring the idea of having this as a benchmark is something that one cannot begin to understand.
There are challenges, there are no questions about that. But why is there no continuous engagement on this? Perhaps that has taken a backseat in attempts to guarantee that unpaid salaries are no longer an issue first?
Safpu must champion this quest to seek clarity and answers.