The 2010 Soccer Star of the Year selection process has come and gone and some will probably put it down in the history books as the worst ever after all the pandemonium that characterised the whole process.
The Sports Writers’ Association of Zimbabwe (SWAZ) mandated to select the crème de la crème turned the selection meeting into a fiasco with some members claiming that tribalism, regionalism and all the other negative “isms” were at play.
The stumbling block that caused all the mayhem was once again the abandoned BancABC Supr8 semi-final between Highlanders and Dynamos.
“Some panellists felt that the duo of Washington Arubi and Ashley Rambanapasi should pay the price for causing the abandonment of the ill-fated match, and therefore should be disqualified from the selection process.
This raised ire from the other writers, especially from the northern region, who argued that Arubi was exonerated by the first ad hoc committee that deliberated on the match.
Part of the report — compiled by the ad hoc committee chaired by Don Moyo and comprising Brighton Mudzamiri and Cuthbert Chitima and later upheld by another — chaired by Saidi Sangula, reads in part:
“The committee is very much alive to the various acts and unsporting behaviour by various individuals from Dynamos and Highlanders.
“In this respect it is pertinent that we mention Ashley Rambanapasi, Elvis Chiweshe, Nyika Chifamba and M Fathi and recommend that disciplinary action be taken against them for their various roles in the stoppages involved in the match.
“We also recommend that for their walkouts the two clubs be brought for a hearing; having made the finding that Highlanders were responsible for the abandonment of the match we pronounce and declare that the match in which Highlanders took part as lost by the club concerned and won by Dynamos on a 3 –0 scoreline as per the rules.”
From the report Arubi was cleared of any wrongdoing. If reporters had listened to other voices before walking out, the chaos could have been avoided and the deliberation confined to Rambanapasi.
Eagles coach Patridge Muskwe was also disqualified from the coach of the year race due to a tribal slur against a Chronicle reporter while Shabanie Mine’s Lennon Chisunga was disqualified for beating up a female reporter.
Referee Sungano Makwangudze fell by the wayside after abusing reporters and while all three have not been dealt with by the PSL, the mayhem they caused simply brought the game of football and our noble profession into disrepute.
Another interesting thing to note was that while the sports writers were quick to act on Rambanapasi and Arubi, they were however ready to forgive players implicated in the Asiagate scandal arguing that they have not been convicted yet.
However, journalists, mostly from the southern region, maintained that Arubi be disqualified for allegedly lifting the middle finger to Highlanders fans who responded by throwing missiles onto the pitch.
One of those missiles fell close to Rambanapasi who allegedly picked it up and threw it back to the fans and is fingered in the ad hoc report because of that.
After an hour of heated debate on the two players, five of the seven journalists from the northern region also stormed out of the meeting saying their colleagues were trying to “settle some old scores” with the two players.
Chairman of the selection committee, veteran broadcaster Charles Mabika walked out of the meeting, claiming that people had come in regional straitjackets.
“I cannot spoil my name by being involved in such a dubious selection process, as it appears some sportswriters came in regional straitjackets that bar them from being objective.
“I felt I could not be part of a process whose agenda was not football but other trivial issues,” said Mabika after he walked out.
What he forgot to add perhaps was: “Everything that comes from the southern region is regional and anything that comes from the northern region is national, so I cannot accept anything from that region.”
In any case he had declared not once, but twice that he wanted both players in the race for selection and for that was accused of being a dictator.
Clearly there was an emotional attachment to players by some reporters. Unfortunately that led to all the chaos.
The panellists who remained in the meeting went on to select Benjamin Marere, Desmond Maringwa, Joel Ngodzo, Mernard Mupera, Edmore Sibanda, Nyasha Mukumbi, Fortune Ncube, Norman Maroto, Charles Sibanda, Allan Gahadzikwa and Bhekimpilo Ncube.