Cape Town - Cape Town City have released a scathing statement after midfielder Mpho Makola was on Friday handed a six-month ban by the Premier Soccer League (PSL) Disciplinary Committee.
Makola was found guilty of pushing referee Abongile Tom after he awarded a penalty to Kaizer Chiefs in a 4-2 penalty-shootout Telkom Knockout win for the Soweto giants at Cape Town Stadium on October 19.
The former Orlando Pirates midfielder reacted badly after Tom adjudged defender Taariq Fielies to have handled the ball in the area when trying to block a Khama Billiat shot at goal in the 28th minute.
Tom brandished yellow cards to both Fielies for the handball and to Makola for his reaction to the awarding of the penalty.
It is with sadness and concern that the club learns of the sentencing of Mpho Makola. The decision was reached after a hearing that lasted over three hours late last night in Johannesburg. The decision by the disciplinary committee, led by prosecutor Nande Becker finds Mpho guilty of assaulting a referee and has imposed a ban of 6 months.
The premeditated aggressive nature of the proceeding was as harmful as the decision to ban Mpho for 6 months. The PSL prosecutor continued to emotionally and intellectually badger Mpho, who was determined to handle the proceeding without legal representation in an attempt to show that he was not there to fight his innocence, but rather to show unwavering remorse. Mpho was taken advantage of. It got to the point where the hearing had to be stopped completely so that a level of humanity and sanity could be expressed to the league’s prosecutor Nande Becker in relation to his treatment towards Mpho, which was as aggressive as it was unnecessary to the technical proceedings.
There was a clear premeditated intention from Nande Becker to ensure that a 12 month ban and R250k fine was placed on Mpho personally. There was also a clear premeditated intention to define Mpho’s character and lack of remorse despite the facts which obviously display the complete opposite.
Mpho is a South African footballing legend with an exemplary football history. He has been an example and role model to aspiring youth around the country with a career that has spanned well over a decade playing for Free State Stars, Orlando Pirates, and Cape Town City. He has represented the PSL and South Africa with distinction, playing over 250 matches in the PSL with not a single red card in his entire career. His discipline, humility, and integrity are unheard of in the modern game.
He is a humble family man with a wife, kids, and debit orders like the rest of us. To impose this decision at 33 for a first offense in Mpho’s unblemished career raises serious concern over the intentions of the league’s prosecutor Nande Becker. It is a decision that signals the possible end of Mpho’s career and last livelihood for his family. We are not the first club to have history with prosecutor Nande Becker and the inconsistency over which cases are taken on, how long we wait for them to be heard, and the intensity with which different cases are pursued – all which cements a clear concern over the consistency of the greatest league on the continent.
Just last season we attempted with Nande Becker to pursue clear cases of intentional violent assault against Thabo Nodada and Roland Putsche which left them both to miss the entire season with broken legs. We were told that the referee’s decision is final and that a card decision cannot be changed unless for mistaken identity.
However, Mpho was only given a yellow card by the same referee who Nande Becker claims he assaulted in a manner which he feels demands a 12-month ban. Even in the match report (after having time to reflect and revisit the incident) the referee documents his decision against Mpho as simply misconduct.
After a penalty was awarded for Kaizer Chiefs Mpho ran towards the ref and, in an attempt to get the referee’s attention, shoves him in manner that clearly warrants a red card. Bothered by what was clearly a lenient decision, Mpho understood the severity of his misconduct and called the referee immediately after the game to express his endless remorse over a single action which was at complete odds with the Mpho Makola all South Africans know.
The club and Mpho have been extremely critical over the action, which has led to heavy internal disciplinary proceedings. Whilst we don’t condone his misconduct against the referee, the club and football fraternity must fight for our player over a correct sentence.
The sentence for misconduct against a referee is a 4-match ban, perhaps the correct determination.
Considering the nature of the incident, a ban of 6 months (bearing in mind the intention of Nande Becker was 12 months) is beyond comprehension and void of any attempt to deal with the merit of the individual case specifically.
The interpretation of Mpho’s action was continuously angled in a way that suited the prosecutor’s own definition of assault, without any evidence to affirm that Mpho had any intention of causing bodily harm with force. The referee’s own report reaffirms that he never felt threatened, nor did he internalize Mpho’s actions as anything close to assault.
Level-headed and consistent prosecution has seen the Serie A impose a 3-match ban on Franck Ribery for shoving a referee, an almost identical case to Mpho’s – but without the mitigating factors which should make Mpho’s sentence even less severe to that of Ribery. For the prosecutor Nande Becker to determine that this is the only case of this nature in PSL history, represents a clear oversight of what we all see in PSL matches and derbies where similar misconduct of grabbing referees to get their attention is evident as recent as a week ago.
It is of critical importance to note that Mpho’s misconduct comes immediately after a penalty decision against an opposition that just a few weeks prior benefitted from a disallowed onside Cape Town City goal which influenced the result of a game in which Mpho played his heart out at Newlands Stadium.
Makola has been used as a scapegoat for the inability of South African football to address what is clearly an epidemic issue with the standard of refereeing.
His career and livelihood have been crushed with the entire weight of all the erroneous and consequential mistakes we can factually see referees making almost every game.
There is a clear intention for this case to be quickly passed so as to paper over the cracks of a larger issue. Coaches are being forced to take interviews immediately after these erroneous decisions, with financially crippling fines being placed against them for expressing the very issues which have led to all of this in the first place.
With all the fines and inconsistent fury of prosecutor Nande Becker, the football fraternity has not, prior to Mpho’s incident, heard or seen a meaningful action to rectify the root problem. The club acknowledges and applauds the Chairman of the PSL who has, at the latest AGM, taken full leadership of urgently engaging SAFA to investigate what can be done by the federation who ultimately provides the referees. But while this is being investigated, Mpho has been made to carry the penalty of all the accumulative errors of this entire fiasco.
Now a single individual, Nande Becker, has forced himself to overestimate the nature of Mpho’s misconduct so as to “make an example” out of possibly ending the career and livelihood of a footballer who has done nothing but carry the name of the PSL with the highest possible esteem for over a decade. Mpho has been left to carry the cross of an entire system failure. Needless to say, the club will be behind Mpho as he begins to appeal the decision for a more appropriate sentence.
- Compiled by Tashreeq Vardien