Of suspect officiating and cry babies!

The Standard, through its sports pull out, FEVERPITCH on 21/08/12, carried a story alleging open favouritism of both Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards by match officials, at the detriment of the “smaller clubs”.

Since I have not been attending the AFC games, I will refrain from mentioning alleged events that took place during the same as quoted by the managers and officials of these so-called small clubs. But before I proceed the question begs: what determines the size of the club?

Some of the instances mentioned include the just concluded KPL TOP 8 tournament, where Gor emerged as the new champions. Another instance in the same tournament was the first leg semifinal clash between the current league defending champions Tusker FC and Gor Mahia.

But then the question of how small or big a club is purported to be remains the challenge. Is the size of a club solely determined by the number of fans? I doubt that is the case. In the City of Turin, the two main clubs are Torino and Juventus.

We might think that the Old-Lady of Italian football (Juventus) is the bigger of the two in terms of fan-base, but you will be shocked to know that the reverse is actually the case. Does that make Torino a “bigger club” in comparison to Juventus? What about past success?

True, both AFC and Gor have between them a total of 25 league titles. This is due to the fact that the history of football in this country has these two clubs at the axis. In addition, the two clubs are older than any other club in the KPL. But then again I pose the question: does this make them bigger?

We can debate on the parameters of big/small clubs until the cows come home but I doubt if we will succeed in coming up with a consensus on the same.

The trouble is that I have read some mischief in these cries of wolf by the so called officials of the “small clubs”. They seem to intimate that decisions only go in favor of the so called bigger clubs (I will stick to Gor Mahia), which is not necessarily the case.

Ulinzi should be the last to mention this, especially after what happened in the last season’s Top 8 semifinal when they played Gor. That match ended prematurely after the fans could no longer stomach the comedy of errors from the day’s center referee.

The soldiers were awarded the match and all Gor got was a bill for damages caused by some irate individuals. Reflecting on the happenings at Kasarani on Sunday, some Ulinzi players were overly physical, a situation the referee didn’t seem to discourage.

Gor players, in particular Rama Salim, Moses Odhiambo and Danny Serunkumah were the recipients of unorthodox tackles by the soldiers. For a long time, many teams have resulted to using this tactic when playing Gor (including AFC Leopards) believing that this is the only way of curtailing the free-flowing football on exhibition by Kogalo.

My word of advice to the so called “small clubs” is simple. The responsibility of Gor players is to play the game as per the referees whistle and definitely the coaches’ instructions. As fans we will cheer our players and protest any decision that seems not to be fair (however we are not the ones making the decision).

On the other hand, the match official is the one with the whistle and the last time I checked he was not donning a Gor Mahia uniform. These teams should think of ways of attracting a fan base rather than being cry-babies. Probably when they are able to have a few hundred fans in the stadium they might shed their “small-team” mentality.

We will continue to sing dance and intimidate these teams (definitely within the confines of THE LAW) and they should not expect any mercy from the Green Army. Oh, and the “small teams” need to grow up.

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