African Warriors players record club’s foul play

2011-11-13 07:28

African Warriors’ players have accused the National First Division (NFD) club of providing squalid living conditions, underpaying them and sometimes deducting money from their salaries for no reason.

The players also allege that they sometimes receive their salaries way after month?end.

This week, City Press saw the players’ compound in Kestell, Free State and was appalled by the conditions there.

To add insult to injury, the place is a stone’s throw away from club boss Jabu Khumalo’s comfortable home in the same suburb.

Khumalo said players were only paid late when the Premier Soccer League (PSL) monthly grant of R250 000 comes late.

But PSL chief operations officer Cambridge Mokanyane disputed this saying: “We can confirm that African Warriors were paid on the 26th of last month.” The grant received by NFD clubs is a quarter of the monthly R1?million that Premiership clubs receive.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, Warriors players revealed that their salaries ranged between R3 000?to R6 000 for junior players. Senior players earn in the region of R12 000 to?R20 000.

The South African Football Players Union (Safpu) said their survey had shown that NFD players earned between R2 000 and ­­R20 000.

This is a far cry from the Premiership League, where salaries can go up to the R250 000 reportedly earned by Bennie McCarthy at Orlando Pirates.

Mamelodi Sundowns striker Katlego Mphela is said to rake in “more than” R200 000 per month.

The Warriors’ place, visited by City Press this week, looks abandoned, dilapidated and in serious need of repair, with the white paint peeling off the walls.

The six units have a basic bathroom, two bedrooms, one kitchen apiece and each unit accommodates two players.

A senior player said they sometimes go for weeks without getting paid. He added that players scramble for food and basic needs every month.

“The situation is bad here. Sometimes we have to borrow money to buy basic stuff. The conditions are not conducive at all and we need the league to intervene. They must come and view this place.”

The players said former coach Vladislav Heric used to rescue them by buying food.

“He couldn’t bear seeing players go to bed on empty stomachs. He used to buy food and give them money.”

Another allegation was that Warriors had deducted R5 000 from players who had not been selected for their match against Bay United in September.

“How can the club deduct money when it’s the coach who did not select the players?” he asked.

Safpu secretary-general Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe blamed the PSL for failing to regulate the NFD.

“The NFD is a dumping site where young boys are thrown in to be exploited. The rule that NFD clubs must field Under-23 players does not help with development but encourages unfair labour practices. Club owners are taking advantage of the situation,” he said.

But PSL general manager Derek Blanckensee said the Under-23 quota rule did not promote exploitation.

“Most players have agents these days. The league provides a standard contract for players. They are also protected by our rules, including access to the Dispute Resolution Chamber. They are also protected by the rules of Fifa and by South Africa legislation,” he said.

Khumalo responded by saying the players are paid late because the league sometimes failed to make payment timeously.

“It happens sometimes that the league delays payments, which I have explained to my players. There’s also nothing wrong with the accommodation. In fact this is reasonable accommodation which other teams can’t afford. If a player wants a luxury flat, he is free to move out and look for alternative accommodation.

“Players that say I owe them money must sue me and exhaust all available avenues. This is just sheer madness,” said Khumalo.

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