PSL side Chippa United have bowed to public pressure and reversed their decision to hire Belgian coach Luc Eymael.
The club received backlash from Safa, the SA Sports Coaching Association and the Eastern Cape provincial government, as well as from a highly incensed public following the announcement of Eymael’s imminent appointment.
Eymael was declared persona non grata in South Africa following his alleged racist remarks in Tanzania in July, when he allegedly described Young Africans SC fans as “dogs and monkeys”.
This led to Safa saying he would never be allowed to coach in the PSL again.
Following news of the Belgian’s imminent appointment on Wednesday, Safa issued a stern statement denouncing said appointment.
“Safa has learnt with dismay the news of the appointment of the unrepentant racist Luc Eymael as head coach of Chippa United FC,” said the association.
“In July this year, Safa joined the rest of the progressive world in condemning Eymael after he was fired by Young Africans FC of Tanzania for referring to the club supporters as monkeys and dogs who know nothing about football.”
“We find it deeply offensive that as the global football community is united in solidarity around the Black Lives Matter campaign, Chippa United FC would see it fit to hire such a character to work in the city named after the founding father of the nation, Tata Nelson Mandela, the champion of a world free of racism and other forms of discrimination.”
“Safa will immediately be writing to the minister of home affairs to express its objection to the granting of a work permit to him. We will also request the ethics committees of Fifa and Safa to charge Eymael, as his despicable conduct is a violation of the codes of both bodies.”
On Thursday, the provincial government also condemned the club for the appointment.
“The Eastern Cape government is concerned that Chippa United have appointed Luc Eymael as their head coach even though they know about the racist and offensive remarks he made about black people supporting his former club.”
“South Africa is founded on principles of human dignity, achievement of equality, advancement of human rights, freedoms and non-racialism. We therefore cannot have a soccer coach who behaves in a manner that is contrary to these values.”
“The racist and offensive remarks made by Eymael have no place in our society and we don’t think a football club playing in our professional soccer league and that is financially supported by the municipalities of the Eastern Cape government should be coached by an unrepentant racist spewing offensive and derogatory statements about other human beings.
“It is more disturbing that the owner of Chippa United, Siviwe ‘Chippa’ Mpengesi, does not see anything wrong with the racist and offensive remarks made by Eymael against black people who support the club formerly coached by Eymael.”
“Mpengesi should fully understand the pain caused by racism. We expected him to be in the frontline of fighting against racism to defend the dignity of people insulted by Eymael in that racist and offensive statement he made,” said the provincial government.
Later on Thursday Chippa United issued a statement confirming that it had withdrawn the appointment.
“The club would like to formally announce that it has withdrawn the appointment of Eymael. After having announced Eymael’s appointment until the end of the season on Wednesday, December 23 2020, the club has considered public outrage ... reputational damage caused to our brand and that of our stakeholders, partners as well as our sponsors [and decided to withdraw].”
“We would like to clarify that the initial decision to make this appointment was based on Eymael’s coaching track record, where we felt he was the best person to take the club towards our desired top-half finish in this DStv Premiership.”
“Outside of the written reports, there was no formal instruction – to us or to any other team – to not employ Eymael. However, as the pride of the Eastern Cape, we represent the legacies of world renowned anti-discrimination heroes who come from our province. The Chilli Boys play an influential role to our surrounding communities through football and through our philanthropic work. We have people that look up to us and on the responsible decisions that we take.”
“Our withdrawal of this appointment is an acknowledgment of our stance on such matters, with the club also having fully informed Eymael and his representatives of our position,” said the club.
Chippa United said an announcement of a new coach would be made in due course.