Pressing Issues: Koto was bad, but what about Spain?

2013-11-25 10:00

The “Bard of Avon” – William Shakespeare to the uninitiated – could have had the silly joke that played itself out during the Bafana Bafana versus Spain international friendly on Tuesday in mind when he wrote Much Ado About Nothing in 1598.

While the play is generally considered one of the writer’s best comedies, it tackles serious issues, such as honour and even death.

And so did the shenanigans that unfolded at South Africa’s soccer mecca, the FNB Stadium, on Tuesday night.

While the besieged South African national team scored one of its most important victories, they might find themselves stripped of the honour.

This is if the world football-governing body decides to throw the book at South Africa and Spain.

The rules pertaining to friendly international matches state: “Matches can be retrospectively removed from the list of matches used to calculate the Fifa/Coca-Cola world rankings if the laws of the game have not been observed.”

Prior to this, it is stated that a maximum of six substitutes can be used in a Category A friendly match.

And therein lies the rub. It’s now history that Spain ended up using seven substitutes in this particular match.

But Fifa cannot put this squarely at South Africa or even Spain’s door, as Lesotho referee Osiase Koto – who is a fully accredited official – made the decision.

He is the main culprit.

To some extent, they could also punish Spain, as we are told they negotiated with the referee to give them leeway to break the rules.

Since when are decisions in a soccer match negotiated?

It also smacks of European supremacy when a country from that neck of woods – ranked number one in the world, nogal – feels it can come to this continent and demand preferential treatment.

And fulfilling the stereotype of Africans as submissive, Koto obliged. It can’t be. It cannot be allowed!

And I find it rich for Spain’s coach, Vicente del Bosque, to tell his country’s media that it was “fair play for South Africa to allow us a seventh substitute”.

Fair play, my foot! Since when does bending the rules to favour yourself translate into fair play?

Will it still be fair play if South Africa lose the massive points they would have gained from winning this match should Fifa decide to downgrade it?

Or will Del Bosque rejoice that his team will maintain their ranking and retain their points despite losing to a lowly ranked African nation?

Contrary to the custom of medieval Gaelic monarchs or noblemen who employed bards to praise them, I feel quite justified and within my rights to vituperate both Koto and Del Bosque in this case.


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