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February 22, 2010
 

Is Soccer in South Africa Corrupt?

From FIFA Bronze Ball to having some brass ones.

Do you remember Bulgarian footballer Hristo Stoichkov? Nicknamed “The Dagger”, he lead Bulgaria past Germany in the 1994 World Cup quarterfinals (in a match that I was fortunate enough to see in person) only to lose 2-1 to Italy in the seminfinals. He retired from international football in 1999 and spent his last year as a player with DC United in 2003.

The next year he was given the nod as gaffer of Bulgaria, a job which he did for 3 years. His most recent endeavor is as manager of the Mamelodi Sundowns in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL). Having taken over in June 2009, Stoichkov won Manager of the Month in the PSL for December 2009 but lately things haven’t been so happy in Pretoria.


During a mid-week match between Mamelodi and PSL opponents Moroka Swallows the lighting system at Super Stadium in Atteridgeville failed, forcing the referees to call for the match to be abandoned. It was slightly before the half, and Swallows lead the match 2-0 at the time. It was decided that the match would be made up on Friday, but that wasn’t what upset Stoichkov so much.

The PSL informed both clubs that the match would continue from the point at which it was stopped, meaning that on Friday things began in the 36th minute with the Swallows leading 2-0. The Sundowns performed very admirably, coming back to earn a 3-3 draw, which further cemented their 2nd-place position in the standings (with the 1 point helping the Swallows move into 8th).

That wasn’t good enough for The Dagger, who blasted the PSL after the match. Disappointed at the decision to continue the match from the point at which it had to be stopped, he went on a tirade in his post-match comments which is sure to raise a few eyebrows: “These people are corrupt. This was a dumb decision; this is bad for the people. These people never played football and have no idea what is going on. The managers just spoil football in this country. The sport is developing but they are stuck in one place.”

The PSL higher-ups have informed Stoichkov that his comments were inappropriate and his language brings the game into disrepute. More importantly, they have threatened action against him for his comments. It’s possible that he will be allowed to see out the PSL season and then be sent on his way by Mamelodi ownership, ending his time in South Africa in the same ignominious way as his career with the Bulgarian national side.

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The NY Kid