I lived and worked in South Africa for nearly 15 years. While there, I travelled to other African countries – including Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia and the Ivory Coast.
I took an interest in all the countries’ different traditions and customs. I am aware that there are suspicions, superstitions and beliefs that are deep-rooted and hard to dispel.
Be that as it may, that’s what the people in those countries believe in, and that has to be respected.
In a recent game between Zambia and Senegal, a rather unusual incident occurred.
A free kick was awarded to Zambia just outside the penalty area on the left side. Before the free kick was taken, a player from Senegal appeared to take something out of his sock and place it in the Zambian goalmouth.
You can imagine the consternation among the home team players. After a few minutes, the referee resolved the situation, but not before one or two skirmishes had broken out.
Eventually, the “object” was removed and play continued.
It’s my opinion the player responsible for placing the object should have been cautioned for ungentlemanly conduct and/or unsporting behaviour.
This reminds me of a similar incident I witnessed shortly after I arrived in South Africa in 1985.
I was sitting in the stand with former NSL and PSL referee Sylvester Ndaba at George Goch stadium in Johannesburg before kick-off. Suddenly, there was a commotion below us – we were perched over the tunnel where the players come out.
I didn’t know what was happening and enquired what all the fuss was about.
Ndaba explained that a small boy had brought a ball out on to the pitch near the touchline.
He urinated on the ball, cleaned it with a towel and ran back down the tunnel.
Like the game in Zambia, there was a hell of a fuss created, with people running up and down and lots of shouting and protests going on.
I seemed to be the only one there who didn’t know what was really going on.
I have since learnt that it was a “juju” incident, and it’s a day I will never forget. I got a free lesson in the African culture that will stay with me forever.
Evacuation at Roland Garros
Something very interesting happened at the home of tennis in France last week.
As we are all aware, the Covid-19 pandemic is still sweeping the world and different countries are dealing with it in different ways.
In France, they currently have an 11pm curfew, so all the people at sporting events must leave the stadiums in time to observe this curfew.
The quarterfinal match between Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini had to be interrupted for the stadium to be cleared.
The players had just finished the third set when the announcement came over the tannoy that the arena had to be cleared in line with the government directive.
Needless to say, the fans were not happy – but they complied.
I mention it here because I don’t remember anything like that ever happening during a game of football.
There may have been something like it if there was a storm or a bomb alert, but not a curfew.
Just thought I’d mention it.
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