Whenever the once mighty Glamour Boys play, fans show up in their numbers, clad in their famous gold and black to show their support – that is, when they play on the road.
For home games, Chiefs’ hordes of fans are often nowhere to be seen as they couldn’t be bothered to show up to support their team. It must be quite an embarrassing situation for the most supported club in the country, who play in the biggest stadium in the land.
When you watch their home games, you see rows and rows and rows of empty seats on TV.
And, this weekend, we all watched the ugly scenes unfold at a near empty FNB Stadium when the club’s angry fans threw missiles at under-pressure head coach Molefi Ntseki. It was the second time it has happened this season. And in the previous campaign, Ntseki’s predecessor Arthur Zwane was injured in an attack by angry fans.
Do they have the right to do that? Do Kaizer Chiefs care enough for their club? In Saturday’s Carling Knockout game against AmaZulu, the attendance at the 90 000-seater FNB Stadium was again poor. Where were the fans?
These days, the only time you will see a full FNB Stadium is for the Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates, or when the EFF and Julius Malema are in town for a political rally.
And, if we cast our minds back to the 2019/2020 season when Chiefs, under Ernst Middendorp, were fighting for the title, their home games were played in front of empty orange seats.
It points to a lack of interest in attending live football from South African fans on the whole. Just last month, Bafana Bafana’s game against eSwatini was not well attended, and coach Hugo Broos bemoaned the fact that the away support outnumbered the home fans in their clash against the Democratic Republic of Congo.
If South African football fans couldn’t be bothered to attend games, how is that meant to inspire players? Can you imagine an impassioned half time team talk where the coach pleads with his players to “win it for the fans who have backed them through thick and thin?” The response that would come from the players would be “what fans?”
Apart from those Thursday afternoon kick-offs we tend to see from time-to-time, the country’s domestic competitions are good for television. That’s about it. For match going fans, on the other hand, not so much.
The average fan would probably weigh up the pros and cons of having to brave the elements, and transport costs of going to the stadium, or watching the game from the comfort of their own lounge, where they will be given brilliant tactical analysis by the in-studio pundits. Staying at home seems like the better option.
That results in game after game in the top-flight not being well attended. When the chips are down, the players can’t rely on their fans to help push them over the line. If the fans can’t be there for the players and the teams they support, they have no right to be upset when the clubs go through a bad patch.
If Kaizer Chiefs played in front of a full house whenever they were at FNB Stadium, their fans opinions might be of importance. Until then, they should sit down and enjoy watching Ntseki-ball.
* The views expressed are not necessarily the views of IOL or Independent Media.
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