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Select soccer stars on merit

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TODAY, sportswriters, coaches and referees’ representatives meet in the capital, Harare, to select the finest 11 players from the 2012 Castle Lager Premiership football season.

NewsDay Editorial

Besides the 11, the Referee of the Year, Coach of the Year and Best Under-20 Player will also be selected and will be announced on December 7 at an awards ceremony. The Golden Boot Award and Goalkeeper of the Year are selected based on statistics and are not subject to debate.

The only obvious debate is this contentious rule, in its second year, that for a player to be eligible for selection he should just have played a mere 10 games and already, this has been seen as a ploy to accommodate a few “favourites”.

Two red cards and six yellow cards also disqualify a player and naturally, this means some of the best defenders and anchormen in the land will not be selected.

There are more chances of a defender and a hardman getting cautions than any other player on the field, meaning selection will then be restricted to goalkeepers and strikers. \

At the end of the day, these are certainly not the best in the land, but just a compromise because the rules have seemingly been cast in stone, and not by the sportswriters, but by those who choose to control events they don’t cover.

Going into the panel, we really wonder what criteria is used when a reporter based in the Midlands and covers FC Platinum, Shabanie Mine and Hardbody is not on the panel, while a scribe based in Mutare or Hwange and has only Buffaloes or the coalminers to watch the entire season is on that panel.

While no one wants to bring the name of the sponsors into disrepute, there is no need to keep the names of selectors a secret, unless there is a plan to smuggle in some dubious characters. We do not want to get the names from the organisers of the event, but from the Premier Soccer League.

These are the custodians of the game and they have all the records. They know who has been covering which games and which players are registered as Under-20. We don’t want the age cheats and those who are perennially Under-20.

As the experts go into the selection process this morning, it is Zimbabwe’s biggest hope that no one will soil the name of the sponsor and the organisers will let the experts — the sportswriters, coaches, referees’ representatives and two members of the Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe — have the final say here.There should be no outside influence, no “guided democracy”, no kickbacks, no favouritism, no regionalism or personal perspectives.

The stars should be selected on merit and those that deserve the top accolades must get what belongs to them. Sports journalists have unfortunately turned out to be the dividing factor in this contest, voting for players from clubs they back and settling scores, worse with this Dynamos-Hwange verdict not going in some’s favour.

Perhaps next year, the selection should not include journalists!
Football — a definite tool for unity not only in the country, but for the various media houses — must be the winner at the end of the day. Conspiracy theories are not needed, but a spirit of purpose driven by fair play must prevail.

My Game is Fair Play, Fifa says.
Let that apply to the selection today.

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