Tovey speaks out about Bafo’s ‘racist’ slur

2009-10-02 00:00

CAPE TOWN — AmaZulu coach Neil Tovey has been labelled a racist for his decision to keep omitting midfielder Bafo Biyela from the starting XI, but now he finally reveals the reason behind his thinking.

Tovey endured 90 minutes of jeers and boos as Usuthu lost 1-0 to Golden Arrows at Chatsworth Stadium, with the fans adamant that Biyela could turn their fortunes around. In fact, a larger-than-normal contingent of policemen and security officials took up strategic positions leading to and around the change room as a precautionary measure.

But Tovey told that he was left with little choice but to transfer list the midfielder.

“There have been lots of lies in the media recently with regards to Bafo Biyela’s departure,” he says. “He’s been struggling with his game and instead of choosing to work harder and win back his place, he chose to run to the media and make unfounded allegations.

“If anything, I’m the person who protected him the most. At some point last season, he said that I didn’t like him and therefore I had a problem with him. Thereafter, a week before a particular game, I personally worked with him during the build-up to a match, something which I didn’t have to do. A little while later he apologised for those utterances.

“This season, management asked me if I want Bafo and I insisted on signing him because I know his abilities. A week into pre-season he pulled out of training with a slight calf strain. I instructed the fitness trainer to do other drills with Bafo and a few other players who were also struggling with a few injuries. But he was the only player who refused to train.

“In the game against Maritzburg United he was struggling and I took him off. After the match he went to the Ilanga newspaper saying that I only liked white players and that he should have been the team’s vice-captain.

“We spoke to him about his actions and a week later he was back talking to the media. At that point, I together with the club’s management decided to put him on the transfer list with pay.

“Normally I don’t like to talk about players because I could jeopardise their chances of joining another club. I know it’s a drastic measure to get rid of a player, and I also think that he’s a good player, but I’m not going to allow one player to disrupt the club.

“I’m comfortable with who I am as a person, I’ve been playing in the townships since the 1970s; people can speak to other players who I have coached previously and people that I have played with during my time as a player.

“I was hurt by the allegations Bafo was making,” Tovey says.

Tovey has the backing of Arrows coach Manqoba Mngqithi, who says: “This matter has been blown out of proportion and as a result it is affecting their results.

“I like Bafo as a player, but there has been too much focus on the negative without people doing too much scrutiny. As South Africans we’re too quick to pull out the race card without examining the facts and, in this case, supporters jumped in on the issue without proper scrutiny.

“Besides, from watching AmaZulu games I’ve seen other players also shining in the position he plays in.”


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