It’s becoming common practice or rather a so often repeated nauseating exercise for African athletes to hold their nations hostage ahead of major football tournaments.
News from Zimbabwe and Guinea Bisssau is that footballers from that neck of the woods have downed tools amidst an unresolved dispute over bonuses and appearance fees prior to their much-anticipated participation in this year’s AFCON finals slated to get rolling in Gabon tomorrow.
The fundamental question that needs to be raised is why always wait until the last minute to start negotiations over payment?
To add salt to the wound African powerhouse, the Black Stars of Ghana, obliged their government to hire a chartered jet ushering in a stash of cash to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals hosted by Brazil.
For those who care to remember, our own Brave Warriors passed on an ideal chance to rewrite the history books by claiming the regional COSAFA Cup prior to the decisive second leg of the final in 1999 against the visiting Palanca
Negras from neighbouring Angola in a contest that was definitely there for the taking.
The aggrieved footballers demanded astronomical amounts of moolah from the cash-stripped Namibia Football Association (NFA).
However, the association’s then president and no-nonsense Petrus Damaseb would not budge and told the unruly players in no uncertain terms where to get off.
Sadly, the Warriors’ second strings could not match the strength of their striking compatriots who were within striking distance to claim victory after an unfortunate 1-all defeat in the crucial away leg in Luanda.
The Warriors, appearing in their third successive final of the regional COSAFA Cup unfortunately bowed out on aggregate following a goalless draw in the decisive return leg at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium, a week later.
As much as yours truly has sympathy with the playing personnel, the bottom line is: to represent your country at august events is an honour, period!!.
In all honesty, the moment athletes start setting their eyes firmly on money ahead of the distinct honour of wearing national colours – representing your motherland with pride and distinction – yours truly is afraid such tendencies would allow athletes to take their eyes off the ball in terms of competitiveness and commitment.
On the other hand, football administrators must also jack up their act and get their house in order. These blokes in blue suits must be honest with athletes regarding remuneration.
It should be made categorically clear to the athletes from the opening day of the negotiations that they will receive a certain amount of bonuses on a pro rata basis, for instance if they made it through to the knockout stages from the group matches and so on.
Truly speaking, athletes are often out of order and ridiculous with their demands, failing to recognize the naked realities facing African football federations by demanding large amounts of moolah in appearance fees, etc.
It should be digested that bonuses would be measured against performance, nothing more and nothing less. I rest my case.