Drink ads debate begins to flow – Mabalane Mfundisi argues for

2012-08-11 15:21

I cannot be a bystander when the game I love is misused as a marketing gimmick aimed at destroying what remains of our moral fibre.

The Carling Black Label Cup is a social disgrace, and does not augur well for my beloved Pirates.

I must add I am fond of Kaizer Chiefs and its founder Kaizer Motaung.

The influence of Pirates and Chiefs individually and collectively is much bigger than that of all political parties in South Africa combined.

So the question is whether this power is used correctly to contribute to social cohesion and nation building?

Was the decision of Kaizer Motaung and Dr Irvin Khoza for the good of football or was theirs a collective act of greed and self-aggrandisement?

I drink alcohol occasionally but have lived and continue to live with people who function only under the influence of alcohol.

We all know of the fans who sleep at matches and others who cause trouble because they are “poepdronk”.

The 2010 Fifa World Cup introduced the sale of alcohol at stadiums, something that was foreign to our beautiful game.

Perhaps Budweiser gave so much money to Fifa that all else did not matter, as long as “commercial interests” were satisfied.

Another legacy of 2010 is this Carling Black Label Cup.

The influence of sponsors is so powerful that a true Charity Cup project had to be killed in exchange for a drinking spree.

Mr Motaung and Dr Khoza know of a player whose career was killed by alcohol in front of them.

They tried all they could to help, but alcohol was too powerful.

I know because I once dabbled as his manager and in those two years I got to understand the power of alcohol on Jabu Mahlangu (Pule).

Tragically, Jabu’s powerlessness in handling his drinking is a demon faced by millions of other South Africans, among whom are soccer players and supporters.

The promising international career of Mbulelo Mabizela (one of South Africa’s best-ever defenders) was cut short because of alcohol-related problems.

Jeffrey Ntuka was killed and word on the streets is that he had been drinking before the fight broke out.

One of the most painful deaths our country has had to face was that of midfield maestro Gift Leremi.

Those in the know are of the view he had been drinking on that fateful night.

These facts and our love of football are why we support the banning of alcohol advertising. Its destructiveness far outweighs the benefits of a tournament.

I call upon Motaung and Khoza to take a stand and ditch this cup and be the lead ambassadors in Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s fight against the alcohol czars.

Cutting the Charity Cup in favour of this Carling Black Label Cup betrayed their roles as leaders of society.

They know that the influence they wield should be used correctly to build South Africa into a winning and sober nation.

I, and many others, look to the second coming of the Charity Cup and the eternal death of the Carling Black Label Cup.

Can you imagine a TV advert of Jabu Mahlangu in either a Pirates or Chiefs shirt promoting the Carling Black Label Cup?

Not a pretty scene for the nation and surely bad for Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates’ football business.

I will remain crazy about football, which is one of the sports former president Nelson Mandela spoke about when he said: “Sport has the power to change the world.

It has the power to unite in a way that little else does.

It speaks to youth in a language they understand.

“Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”

My only expectation is ethical leadership from the men I, together with many others, call my role models.

» Mfundisi is a founder and executive director of Aids-prevention project Show Me Your Number


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