Thursday, February 27, 2014

Majoro Saga - Are we expecting too much from players?


World football has had many feuds and controversies when it comes to players transfers, misconducts and deals. That ranges from the Bosman case which led to what is known as the Bosman rule and the recent Neymar transfer from Santos of Brazil to Barcelona. Lehlohonolo Majoro of South Africa has been making the headlines, firstly for his fallout with the Kaizer Chiefs technical team as surplus to requirements and then their managements by what they termed his (mis)conduct.

Major, as he was affectionately known at Amakhosi, hopefully will be the same or a better Major at Orlando Pirates, has been recently been accused of betrayal of trust and misbehaviour by his agent, Tim Sukazi just to paraphrase the whole thing. Many of you are aware of the details, some even well-versed than yours truly. The stories later ran regarding the risk Pirates were taking in trying to field the player. This was based on the fact that Major had his contract cancelled by Kaizer Chiefs on Friday having already signed a pre-contract to join Pirates next season.

The reports feared the Premier Soccer League regulations that state clearly that no player may be registered outside of the transfer windows if he was contracted to another club at the time the last window closed, but the South African Football Players Union released a statement to clarify the saga as these fears were based on uninformed sources. To summarise the SAFPU statement, it said that Majoro was declared a free agent by the PSL Dispute Resolution Chamber. The implications thereof were that, among many other things, he was at liberty to choose his next destination and start work with immediate effect. He was declared a free agent on Saturday, 22 February 2014, meaning the player would be entitled to register outside the window period for any club of his choice. Chiefs opted not to oppose the application for his free agency. The statement mentioned that as long as proper registration procedures were followed, Majoro would be entitled to play football immediately, ‘without any club being at risk to be "DOCKED" points’. 

Coming to his assumed dealings with Sukazi, the story has many prisms. Even those on the same side see different colours and reflexions. There is talk of the two gentlemen’s relationship having reached low levels, but from what the agent says, there may be no relationship at all to talk about. The issue is that Majoro by-passed what was his main man, to join the Sea Robbers. Many believed that Majoro’s contract with Sukazi was expired and hence someone else negotiated his three-year deal on Monday with the Buccaneers. The juicy part is that the negotiator is said to be an unregistered agent and neither is he a practising lawyer in his country of jurisdiction. It is believed by others that Sukazi was still Majoro's agent. The agent has since said he will sue to clear his name and probably for being hard done by the player after they hopped from Supersport United to Ajax Cape Town FC yet the player was dealing with someone else.

The fact of the matter is that this case is a big story because it involved big teams, a big player and hence represented a big business. With all due respect, players have limited capacity to make decisions and Sukazi should know better. It is not that football players are not as professional as they should be because they choose not to be. Major may be of a higher or lower intellect or education than an average footballer but here is the point: Many footballers have limited time and resources to get education as many will sign their first professional contracts before they are done with school. They spend the rest of their playing careers being admired superstars and that is the life they know.


I cried while watching one documentary of one player many thought was the best thing after Pele and Eusebio, one Nii Lamptey of Ghana. For all the glory and talent, he is poorer that a church mouse as he was milked dry by agents who made him hop from one frying pan to fire. He could neither read nor write. A few years back, Lebohang Mokoena was playing for Pirates during the days of Joseph Makhanya, Gift Leremi and Jimmy Khauleza and Benedict Vilakazi. The Cheese Boy opted against writing his matric examinations doing football. At least arriving to that level was an extreme achievement on its own.

Even in higher leagues, few players study beyond elementary levels as one or two go on to get Doctorates but one can count them on one hand, as you will remember the great Socrates of Brazil who was a medical doctor and a philosopher. David Wetherall and Barry Horne had a degree in Chemistry, Steve Palmer in Software Engineering. (Other include Steve Heighway (economics), Slaven Bilic (law), Shaka Hislop (mechanical engineering), Iain Dowie (Masters in engineering), Steve Coppell (economics) and Richard Hinds (law, Open University), Arsène Wenger (economics), Gudni Bergsson (law) and Oliver Bierhoff (economics).

To be fair, many of us expect too much from our professionals who cannot do much other than play football. If they were what we take them for, life would be very easy and they would not need agents and managers to run their playing careers and take care of their moneys. This typical example shows how much more help players actually need. As Sukazi goes to court to teach ‘John Legend’ a lesson, we all learn from both, a valuable lesson that we would have paid much to learn - that palyers need much help than meets the eye and that the agents do not do as much for the players as they should. It is that gap that accumulates mistrusts and many take each other for granted As of now, we wish the agent success in court and Major the best on the field.