What a pity, as well as
what a missed opportunity, that the celebration at Soccer City last week and
the fine turnout in Atteridgeville this past Wednesday was not crowned with a
And what a load of nonsense that the league winners have to wait until the last
day of the season before they are finally rewarded with the symbolic fruits of
The decision to stage manage the trophy handover and strip it of its delirium
and spontaneity is one which puts corporate considerations over that of
sporting endeavour with ‘suits’ taking away one of the fundamentals of sporting
Kaizer Chiefs should have been given the league title the night they won it,
with a riotous 4-1 win over Polokwane City, with the requisite celebration and
trophy hand over in front of a expectant crowd. They could have displayed the
same trophy again in Atteridgeville on Wednesday and preceded the match against
Mamelodi Sundowns with a lap of honour to display the well-earned silverware to
It is an age-old, honoured tradition of the game and many times, in the past,
there has been the drama of the anticipation of the handover, with the trophy
waiting suggestively in the VIP box, only for it to be packed away for the next
time because the team on the cusp of the title were not able to fulfill the
But alas no longer, as instead we will have a stage-managed celebration,
stripped of any spontaneous joy of the event, to close out the season. A bit
like giving kids their Christmas presents on the night of the 25th.
The Premier Soccer League dispensed of this wonderful opportunity to enforce
the romance of the game several years ago, opting for the sterile instead.
When I asked three years ago ‘why?’ they told me it was “in line with
international best practice” and they were following the example of the English
and Germans, now also saving the trophy handover the last day as they bow to
Well if the PSL are to slavish follow “international best practice”, then I
would suggest there is a lot of work they need to do ... but that is another
matter for another day.
It is true the English and Germans have also sold out to corporate sponsors and
changed their hand over policy, if for no other reason than to ensure more
television time for their sponsor and to allow some company bigwig to be on
hand to assist with the trophy handover and enjoy an ego-boosting moment in the
It must be pointed out there are many countries where they do not wait but hand
the trophy over immediately. Like when PSV Eindhoven won in the Netherlands
last weekend, sparking off a massive celebration in their city. Like Chiefs
they took the title with three games still to play but already have been given
the proof of their ascendency to the top.
When a player has finally crossed that magical threshold and won the right to
be called champion, he must be given his trophy and his medal. Never mind if
the season is still weeks away from completion. Great sporting moments need to
be properly captured and enjoyed by those who are there in anticipation of
Stage managed celebrations are hollow and superficial and have nothing to do
with the joy of sport. Shame on the PSL!
Mark Gleeson is a world-renowned soccer commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.
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