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Sports persons should practice restraint

Football is a game of emotions, and on Sunday, at the University of Botswana Stadium, Township Rollers and Sharps Shooting Stars were involved in a bruising encounter.

At the end of the game, Rollers winger and former national team captain, Joel Mogorosi was nursing a fractured leg after being stretchered off in the 12th-minute of a physical match. Tempers regularly flared and the referee was kept busy, dishing six yellow cards and a red card to the injured Mogorosi, for dissent.

It was not the best advert for local football. The trend on the pitch followed off the field tensions, between the two clubs’ financiers, Jagdish Shah of Rollers and his Sharps counterpart, Sommerset Gobuiwang. The two parted ways acrimoniously at Rollers at the height of a damaging ownership wrangle, which later saw emotions spilled into the pitch with Mogorosi further stoking the fires with a Facebook post publicly critical of his opponents.

He went to the extent of mentioning killing his tackler, Gift Maworere as well as criticising the referee and Sharps coach, Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul.

Mogorosi’s coach, Nikola Kavazovic joined the melee, hitting out at Sharps’ approach, accusing the team of deliberately going out to injure his players.

Both Mogorosi and Kavazovic’s comments whipped up a frenzy and opened the floodgates, as the fans joined the heated argument on social media networks. It was a reflection of the undoubted influence the players and coaches hold in swaying the emotions of the supporters.

While we empathise with Mogorosi and wish him a speedy recovery, we would like to caution about athletes’ growing tendency of

venting their anger on social media networks. We saw it with Baboloki Thebe who was critical of the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), after the mother body failed to take care of his injury. Understandably, Thebe was aggrieved and therefore found solace in posting on Facebook, there were other avenues available to resolve the matter. Similarly, while Mogorosi posted “in the heat of the moment” he should have exercised restraint.

He is a role model to multitudes and as a player for a team with mass support, Mogorosi’s Facebook post could easily spark an ugly war with far-reaching consequences for the game. We do not condone players butchering others on the football pitch, but we believe rushing to social media has the potential to create chaos, and drag the name of football into disrepute.  It also sends a wrong message that social media is the new centre for aggrieved players.

But this should not be the case as there are dispute resolution mechanisms in place. There is a code of conduct to be followed. Order needs to be maintained, and the game’s gatekeepers, should not allow the growing but unwelcome trend. In the same vein, we urge the Botswana Premier League to take drastic measures following Sunday’s incidents, and set an emphatic example that indiscipline will not be tolerated.

Today’s thought

"One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it."

 – Knute Rockne




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