Sport Comment: Tribalism has no place in soccer

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Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) board member for competitions Benedict Moyo, from the blue, was quoted in the media recently saying he was not a tribalist.

What immediately struck us is the manner in which Moyo was so defensive in the report raising serious suspicions that indeed there is tribalism in the football governing body.

Some say there is no smoke without fire. Why Moyo chose to dwell on that subject from nowhere shows Zifa have a case to answer on alleged tribalism within its structures, particularly the Zifa board.

But there were refreshing statements by Moyo which should be taken seriously for the sport and country to move forward.

Moyo said: “My appeal to the nation is, let’s stop this regional nonsense because it never existed. When Sunday Chidzambwa was in charge of the national team, no one was talking about regions, when Norman Mapeza came along and we appointed Tom (Saintfiet) instead people started saying it was because Norman was hated in the Southern region.

“When Norman resigned and Madinda (Ndlovu) remained in charge, when we had made it clear that they were co-coaches, there were also accusations that it was all because of regionalism and tribalism. Let’s move from that mode of thinking so we can change our football.”

Indeed the tribal mode must stop now for the good of the game and progress. We will not achieve anything with tribal issues hanging over our football.

Decisions must be based on the development of the game.

Tribalism has no place in soccer. Soccer is a unifying game and it should remain as such. Football stadia are the only places where no one says they belong to Movement for Democratic Change or Zanu PF.

They are the only places where people don’t ask each other whether they are Ndebele or Shona.

So we urge the Zifa leadership to avoid dividing the nation through elaborate gestures which display regionalism when taking important decisions.

The appointment of a national team coach has become a hot potato since the botched up hiring of Belgian Saintfiet. Most Zifa board members including Moyo had resisted Mapeza’s appointment because they felt he was still green.

While they might be correct that Mapeza is still young and inexperienced the same Zifa board members must be reminded that the coach of Cape Verde, Lucio Antune, our 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers group leaders, is Mapeza’s age.

Pep Guardiola who is coaching the best ever Barcelona side is only 40 and two years older than Mapeza. Coaches just need the proper environment to succeed. Let’s give Mapeza the maximum support while he is in charge.

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