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Downs score an own goal with media

By unknown | Mar 03, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Last Wednesday, as is the norm when either of the Tshwane-based teams are engaged in matches, I made my way to Loftus Stadium.

That particular evening Mamelodi Sundowns were hosting Moroka Swallows, and there was a lot to think about, based on developments that week.

Instead of focusing on my job, however, I was anxious about, even frightened of, what the security guards who man the gates at these stadiums were going to dish out this time.

After all, only days earlier a colleague from another paper had been slapped by the guards, who were denying him access to the stadium so he could do his job.

Sure enough, I was told not to come in, and duly pointed to an unlit parking area, outside the stadium - an area in which no woman in her right mind and on her own should be wandering. I tried to ask why - after I had been using an inside parking area for the last two years when covering matches - that night was different. He just waved me away.

Now, Mamelodi Sundowns' hostility towards reporters at matches is legendary. We beg for team line-ups, we beg to get into the stadiums on our way to the press room, and we even beg them to interview their coaches after matches. I wonder how they expect people to perceive their brand.

Though chaos can occur anywhere when you have overzealous security guards, other Premiership clubs have structures in place to avoid this happening.

Two days before their matches, a Joburg team sends messages to reporters to fetch their parking tickets. I don't regularly cover Orlando Pirates, yet they still send me the message.

I think it is time that someone explained that soccer teams need the media, as part of their stakeholders. My superior has tried to intercede on my behalf to try and resolve this, as have others, to no avail. We are exposed to these people's abuse regularly. I can only hope, as former journalist Mahlatse Mphahlele is now the manager of communications at the club, that he will ring in the changes.

I'm also holding my breath that Altaaf Kazi at the PSL, as a media person, will show an interest in this despicable behaviour.


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