NKARENG MATSHE | Time for Rulani, Ramovic to end this madness

24 May 2024 - 06:39
By Nkareng Matshe
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena and his TS Galaxy counterpart Sead Ramović
Image: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena and his TS Galaxy counterpart Sead Ramović

It began as a minor spat between coaches because of a match result, but the growing acrimony between Rulani Mokwena and Sead Ramovic is now threatening the well-being of South African football.

The sight of uniformed police entering the Mbombela Stadium pitch to separate the personnel of TS Galaxy and Mamelodi Sundowns from engaging in a full-blown fist-fight cannot have been pretty, even as Galaxy dismissed the fracas as a non-issue.

Why has this gone on for so long though? The roots of this conflict can be traced to last October, when Galaxy knocked Sundowns out of the Carling Knockout, prompting Sundowns coach Mokwena to bemoan the absence of his regulars who were with Bafana Bafana at the time.

Ramovic retorted by mocking Sundowns, saying they still put out a competitive team and must accept defeat.

This is where the issue ought to have ended, we thought. But Mokwena, for some odd reason, brought it to the fore again in February this year, telling us Ramovic had apologised for his initial comments. Ramovic then offered his version of events, which meant he had to throw some F-bombs in an official PSL press conference to prove that Mokwena had misrepresented him.

That was a sign of how serious this beef had become and, naturally, the PSL should have intervened at that very point. Here was a coach using profanities in an official press conference, claiming these had been uttered by another coach over a phone call.

Nothing was done all those months ago, and this week, the conflict descended into chaos which cannot project a good image for our game.

First, Galaxy served Mokwena with court papers for comments he made at the end of April, when he insinuated Bongani Zungu had been deliberately targeted by Galaxy players for injury as some sort of revenge for Zungu’s leg-breaking tackle on Bernard Parker in the October clash.

We know that Fifa Statutes abhor resolving football matters through the courts, encouraging that disputes be resolved through internal mechanisms. But Galaxy thought otherwise, heading straight to court after Mokwena didn’t withdraw his statement. Why not file a complaint at the PSL and, if there’s no joy, escalate it to Safa?

Involving courts in matters that arose pitch-side is a recipe for disaster because ultimately, Mokwena and Ramovic are colleagues. Galaxy and Sundowns have concluded business deals before, such as the transfer of Bathusi Aubaas at the beginning of this season. Lehlohonolo Mojela, the Galaxy play-maker, this week openly expressed his desire to join Sundowns one day, so there’s no question that both teams will continue to relate due to Galaxy’s occasional need to cash-in on their best talent.

What would it take for Mokwena and Ramovic to discuss matters over coffee, shake hands and move on instead of barraging us with this inane sideshow that has gone on for eight months?

If they can’t find common ground, their club bosses should end all this madness by calling them to order, unless they, too, find amusement in this needless jamboree.

More concerning is the silence of the PSL which should long have thrown the book at the two, reminding them to behave in an exemplary manner and without compromising a product which is beamed live into millions of households, which have children.

PSL prosecutor Zola Majavu should have acted right at the first sign of animosity between the coaches, because their comments did enough to merit a charge of bringing the league into disrepute.

But now we are here, sitting with a court case, and images of highly charged staff members throwing unprintables at each other, and of police separating old men from assaulting one another. This madness must stop.