Mark Gleeson

Nonsense to make Chiefs wait

2015-05-05 12:15
Mark Gleeson (Gallo Images)

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 trophy.

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 their labour.

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 celebration.

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 their fans.

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 task.

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 corporate flunkies.

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 spotlight.

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 success.

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.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    kaizer chiefs  |  psl  |  mark gleeson  |  soccer

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The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

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