We won't 'tolerate' riots
Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe says the club will no longer tolerate rioting by club fans in an attempt to force unwanted coaches out of the club.
The Brazilians have a history of venting their frustration when their club is not winning with their most recent indiscretion directed at former boss Antonio Lopez Habas. The Argentine resigned on February 5 after the fans rioted at the Lucas Moripe stadium in Atteridgeville on January 30.
The club had drawn 1-1 with Platinum Stars that day and despite Sundowns winning their next match, 2-0 against Moroka Swallows at the Mbombela stadium on February 2, Habas stepped down following death threats directed towards his family.
Motsepe's announcement came after he unveiled Jacobus Johan Neeskens as the new Downs coach, although the mining magnate also felt compelled to defend his decision amid some dissenting voices from within the country's coaching fraternity.
He said: "We will not tolerate riots and I say this seriously. We will not tolerate disrespect to the coach and the team on the stadiums. As part of the commission we have instituted, we will take action against those people who will be identified to have been involved in unruly, disrespectful and disgraceful behaviour and this is not just about talking.
"Why must they go and complain at the stadium about the coach? We have a platform to say anything and everything you want... We can't have this reputation that when coaches don't succeed at Sundowns there is an improper departure of these coaches."
He added in the Business Day: "We have had various local coaches in the past and I do not see this as a problem.
"The reality is, you have got to compare yourself with the very best in the world," he said. "Welcoming others is also a sign of strength. Whenever we bring foreign coaches to the country, we always ensure that our assistants are local so that they learn from them.
"I am comfortable with this decision and I think that Sundowns are doing the right thing."
Sundowns have employed a number of foreign coaches, however, it was Moroka Swallows coach Gordon Igesund who last led them to league success in 2007.
He pointed out that local coaches have won more Premiership titles than foreigners since the Premier Soccer League was launched in 1996.
He added: "You can correct me if I am wrong, but eight titles have been won by local coaches (since 1996). But I guess if you do not believe in local coaches then you do not believe in local coaches."
Motsepe was man enough, however, to admit that the Sundowns management must shoulder some of the blame for their dormant approach to issues pertaining to fans' unhappiness.
"We as the leadership of Sundowns have to take the blame for not actively engaging our supporters at their branches at regional and national level."
Neeskens, meanwhile, added that he will afford the fans an opportunity to speak out on a formal platform if things take a turn for the worse, vowing that, "I don't walk away from problems.
"I want to say one thing to our supporters. The riots are not nice for the club, the coach and the players, but I can understand it because you are frustrated when the team is losing games, but there is one thing and that is I don't walk away from problems. I will want to face you guys so you can have an opportunity to ask whatever question. I think that will be fair."