Stamp out the chaos

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THE decision by the Premier League to ban the executive committee of Lioli Football Club for the next four years did not come as a surprise to us.

Lioli football club and the Premier League have been on a confrontational path for a long time and the club should have seen it coming.

The ban, which was announced two weeks ago, came after the club was found guilty on two charges of gross misconduct and bringing the game of football into disrepute.

The first charge related to the club’s decision to write to the Confederation of African Football on October 8 2008 protesting a decision to bar the club from participating in the Champions League.

As we might be aware football clubs are banned from communicating directly with the continental football governing body.

The second charge arose from Lioli’s decision to take their dispute with Lefa to the High Court.

This, Lefa argues, was also in direct contravention of the laws of the game.

It is an offence to take disputes of a football nature to the courts of law.

Any such disputes should be resolved by football authorities without the interference of the courts of law.

Besides these two cases, Lioli FC have also been in the news for other reasons as well.

For instance, the club’s communications and marketing manager, Moeketsi Pitso, shocked the football fraternity recently when he urinated on the pitch during the Vodacom Spectacular Cup match in Matsieng.

Pitso then assaulted Qamako Mahao, an official from FC Likhopo.

Although Pitso has since apologised profusely for his “acts of madness”, what he did clearly raised serious questions about the calibre of people running our football at club level.

With individuals such as these we have no reason to doubt why our football is in such dire straits.

The club needs to weed itself of such bad apples if it is to salvage any iota of reputation that remains.

We do not query the fact that Lioli FC is one of the best-run football clubs in Lesotho.

The Teyateyaneng-based club is among the few clubs in the land that can boast having an amazing band of loyal supporters.

We are not surprised that the corporate sector has been willing to be associated with the Lioli brand.

But when the club and officials hog the limelight for the wrong reasons this drives away sponsors.

No corporate sponsor is willing to have its name dragged in the mud.

We hope the Lioli officials are not too dumb to grasp this fact.

The Premier League must crack its whip in the manner it deals with Lioli FC.

It needs a firm hand to stamp out the chaos that we have seen in our football over the past months.

The first step is to tell Lioli FC in no uncertain terms that the club is not bigger than football here in Lesotho.

Rules are rules and must be adhered to.

The issue of violence at football grounds should be addressed holistically.

It means the government chipping in by providing proper stadia to control supporters.

It also means empowering clubs to be able to provide proper security services at football matches.

The present reality is that most of our clubs are run on a shoe-string budget and can hardly pay decent wages to players and club officials.

We need new innovative methods to deal with the crisis in our domestic football.

Of course this does not in any way condone the untidy manner in which the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) sometimes runs the national game.

We have, as we have forcefully argued in our previous editorials, serious misgivings about the way Lefa runs our football.

And we have not hesitated to let the authorities at Lefa know our stance on critical issues affecting our football.

We have done so at the risk of jeopardising our excellent relations with the football controlling body.

But we had to do it.

We have never forgiven Lefa for almost committing treason by failing to register Lesotho for the 2012 African Nations Cup qualifiers.

We think such a decision sabotages our national sporting development goals and will cause untold harm to us as a nation with serious ambitions of becoming a football powerhouse on the African continent.

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Lesotho’s widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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