JOHANNESBURG – A raging storm is still going on following last week’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) annual awards which were marred by controversy.
In the middle of the storm is the awarding of Sphiwe Tshabalala’s routine free kick goal which fans voted the winner of the Goal of the Season award ahead of Oscar Masuluke’s overheard injury time goal which grabbed the attention of the entire world.
The Mzansi PSL Goal of the Season award is voted by football fans unlike other awards which are either voted by a panel of the media or players themselves.
This is where the crux of the matter is. Following his World Cup opening goal in 2010, Tshabalala is considered an icon in Mzansi and across the African continent.
As a result, he has massive following on both Twitter and Instagram while poor Masuluke, an easy going goalkeeper from rural Limpopo doesn’t even have a Twitter account.
The goalkeeper plays for modest Baroka FC while Shabba, as Tshabalala is popularly known by football fans is a hit among the country’s most supported side Kaizer Chiefs.
But surely one would have expected common sense to prevail and that fans would vote purely on football reasons than for their favourite player.
What they did was leaving the entire awards with zero credibility in the eyes of true football fans.
Tshabalala’s goal was good but nothing to write home about while Masuluke’s had everything special about it.
Here is a keeper who left his posts in the 95th minute, deep into injury time with his team losing 1-0 to Orlando Pirates.
From the ensuing corner kick, the Pirates keeper punched the ball out of the 18 area and with the goal to his back; Masuluke executed a bicycle kick scorcher which whistled into the back of the net as the Polokwane side grabbed a dramatic equaliser and made the tall keeper an instant sensation.
The goal made global headlines with most United Kingdom newspapers taming it among the greatest goal of the year.
This was the goal which also saved Baroka their PSL status; the dramatic goal had everything in it.
Now how fans decided to see it the other way round, still beats sober-minded football fans.
But that is what happens if you leave certain decisions to fans. They do everything on emotions.
Yet such matters are not only a fault of fans. Sometime back in late 70s, Zimbabwe football writers also had a habit of doing things like fans. They would favour everything that is Dynamos.
I remember one year, Shaky Tauro then a young CAPS United sensation had done everything to win the popular Soccer Star of the Year but alas, the journos went for George Shaya who from people’s perspective had a modest season.
Not many years ago, Germany keeper Manuel Nuer was favoured to win the Ballon Or Dor but because he was up against top guns and people’s favourites Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, the big goalminder was forced to sit down for the popular duo.
The long and short of this is that football decisions must mostly be left for experts but then that still is not a guarantee that the right thing will be done.
While controversy is part of the game, what happened to Mzansi’s Goal of the Season was abhorrent and disgusting. This is not what we want in football.
Many social media users this week have been asking Shabba to donate the R50 000 to Masuluke as he didn’t deserve the award.
But money being tight for everyone these days, that is unlikely to happen.