AS a microcosm of life sport and football in particular is inevitably attended by its own moral conundrums with rules and regulations evolving in an effort to frame something, which more closely correspond to what feels right and just, but there are also issues and areas where there is no certainty and that is how we are inclined to find ourselves in a moral maze.
The cynical betrayal of the much-adored Fifa Fair Play plea by MTC Premiership campaigners Tura Magic Football Club during their narrow 2-1 win over Tropical Heat in their Bidvest Cup last 16 encounter against the men in camouflage uniform can most definitely not be left unchallenged. There are various activities and conduct in the beautiful game of football that are regarded as un-cool such as tackling an opponent from behind, time wasting, feigning injury and diving in an attempt to gain unfair advantage. The unwritten rule of fair play leaves us with some awkward questions, something that can be likened to a kind of moral relativism – different cultures within different sports regarding some forms of cheating as being worse than others. What transpired in the Tura Magic debacle, an emerging unit under the stewardship of people whose livelihood depends largely on serving the game of football with distinction, moral rectitude and the undying belief in fair play, is unacceptable and an affront to all lovers of the beautiful game and those who regard truth as the deepest sentiment. The question on the minds of many people and ardent fans who follow the game closely and with passionate interest and ultimately the arbiters of what is deemed fair play is, who decides on the rule of fair play during a crucial match where piles of moolah and pride is at stake and what role do the men in black play to ensure fair play is observed at all times?
Since football is a contact sport, the general rule is that when a player lies sprawling on the field of play in need of medical attention, whichever team is in possession of the ball should kick the ball out of touch to allow the injured player to receive attention. Tropical Heat duly obliged during that match and put the spherical object out of touch, but to the amazement of the spectators, Tura Magic skipper Neville Tjiueza would have none of that and simply ignored legitimate calls to kick the ball out of touch or to voluntarily relinquish possession of the ball.
However, the Brave Warriors midfielder galloped half the length of the field zigzagging through a couple of befuddled defenders to score his team’s winning goal – very much against the spirit of fair play. While there is no particular rule that obliges the poor match official to disallow the goal – the onus was solely on Tura’s technical team to do the honourable thing and to instruct their players to remain idle allowing the opposition to get even straight away from the resumption. That’s what we call fair play ‘finish and klaar’. This painful episode reminds yours truly of one fateful day in 1999 when the Flying Dutchman, Marc Overmars, collided with Nigerian striker Nakwo Kanu for Arsenal’s controversial winning goal against Sheffield United in the FA Cup in similar fashion. The Gunners won the tie, but the team’s gaffer Arsene Wenger, a true gentleman of the game sincerely apologized for the error of judgment and politely offered a replay, which Arsenal won. That’s the true definition of fair play – nothing less and nothing more! The bottom line is that such ungentlemanly conduct can potentially bring the game of football into disrepute. I rest my case.