‘Beautiful game’ is under threat

‘Beautiful game’ is under threat

IT could probably rank as the biggest scandal to rock our football since independence in 1965. Giants, Bantu Football Club, were on Monday docked three points after they were found guilty of bending the rules to register foreign-born players under dubious circumstances.

The scandal has sucked in Lesotho’s immigration department after some of the players, who are said to be South Africans, allegedly acquired Lesotho birth certificates and IDs fraudulently. The scandal is not just a simple football scandal; it cuts deeper into the integrity of our immigration system.
This has serious implications for our national security.

How foreign players, obviously with the help of rotten individuals at the Ministry of Home Affairs, were allowed to bend the rules to acquire birth certificates and IDs should be a cause of real concern to all peace-loving Basotho. The reputational damage to our football is pretty massive.
At the footballing level, the scandal cuts right through to the integrity of the “beautiful game”. The spirit of the game is to compete fairly and not to win at all costs.

We would want to believe football clubs would seek to stick to the rules. And so when a team flouts all the rules, it saps the true spirit of football.
The scandal could also potentially harm our football which has struggled to attract sponsors in recent years.
Of course, no business would want to be associated with clubs that are willing to bend the rules to win at all costs.

When sponsors pull out, that could have a devastating impact on our football. Football would be the biggest loser.
That is why we think the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) must now step in.
This is not just a football matter. It is a criminal matter involving the deliberate flouting of Lesotho’s immigration laws.

The two authorities must get to the bottom of the matter and come down hard on those who facilitated the rotten transaction.
The scandal could be the biggest pointer that there is a lot of dishonesty and chicanery in our football. There have been reports of clubs fixing players’ ages to make them attractive to foreign clubs.

If we allow cheats to win, then our football will never grow. We need to nip this culture of cheating in the bud. It’s time to bring back integrity into our game. While we have been shocked by the extent to which clubs can go to bend the rules, we note with disappointment the response that has come from Bantu FC.

Instead of showing any contrition, the club has stubbornly insisted they did nothing wrong. We find such an attitude quite disconcerting.
Their response has been very dismissive. That is very sad. To dismiss this whole episode as the work of enemies out to get them is to miss the point. The club must show real contrition and apologise unreservedly for bringing the game of football in Lesotho into disrepute.

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