Football

Kalu ban sad

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
I HAVE followed closely the suspension of Africa and Zambia’s football hero Kalusha Bwalya from all football activities for a period of two years.It is now public knowledge that FIFA, the mighty world soccer governing body, found Kalusha guilty of allegedly breaching confidentiality and offering and accepting gifts and other benefits.
I do not want to dwell on the merits or demerits of the ban but on the need for Zambians to give the legendary former player a “shoulder to cry on” during this difficult patch in his life.
Kalusha has served the game, both locally and internationally, with utmost dedication and integrity. He was always available when duty called for his country.
His exploits on the pitch made all followers of the game happy. Even at the age of 42, when he had little energy left for the highly physical sport, he played for Zambia, which was a mark of incredible patriotism.
He went on to serve as national team coach from 2003 to 2006, during which he groomed a number of players although there was little success on the pitch continentally.
As Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president, he introduced so many programmes for administrators, coaches, referees and other players in the development of the game.
It was during his reign that Zambia won the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations title for the first time. Simply put, Kalusha is big in football.
But the news last week is quite some slur on his illustrious career. It is my hope that he comes out clean in the appeal he intends to lodge with FIFA.
From what Kalusha said when he was borrowing the US$48,000 from Mohamed bin Hammam, the money was intended for FAZ as well as his personal use. It’s only that the timing coincided with elections for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup and may have been misconstrued.
It is important to understand, too, that the matter was initially cleared by FIFA but was resubmitted [by heavens know who], hence the ban.
Without any inference whatsoever, it is important for all people in public office to serve with integrity (as Kalusha did, I believe).
There are so many question marks on the conduct of some people in clubs and national associations. I see and hear about many things I perceive to be sins, which go unpunished. Yet these sinners are the first ones to point an accusing finger at others, even for sins they did not commit.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time we served the beautiful game with integrity. Our football is, to a large extent, a service unless one owns a club.
Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili has belaboured the point of being ‘a brother’s keeper’.
I wish Kalu success in his appeal so that he carries on the great work of creating a platform to develop the beautiful game.
Keep the conversations flowing on sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com

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