Kaizer Motaung proved on Thursday that he is as sharp off the field at 67 as he was on it, when he was tearing American defences apart 40 years ago.
Affectionately known as “Tshintsha Guluva” for his ability to confound the opposition, the founder and father of Kaizer Chiefs came out with a humble apology for his son Bobby’s behaviour with impeccable timing – about an hour after I called for South Africa’s greatest footballing icon to do exactly that on Twitter and Facebook (see www.twitter.com/nealcol).
While so many of the South African newspapers preferred to focus on the Currie Cup and cyling (The Star in particular!), the captaincy saga at the Amakhosi has been the real sporting story of the week. And in one brave statement, Kaizer has eased the fears of an estimated 14 million Amakhosi with these words: “I would like to convey, with great humility, my heartfelt regret and unreserved apologies at the offence these comments have caused to many of our supporters; people who are at the heart of Kaizer Chiefs.”
When I suggested football manager Bobby Motaung, Kaizer’s son, had upset the fans on Thursday, I was subject to personal abuse and anonymous phone calls – though there was also a significant groundswell of support for daring to reflect exactly how repugnant nepotism is, even in a family-run business.
Bobby, while shrugging off the storm over Jimmy Tau’s loss of the captain’s armband without conviction, said at his press conference: “As for those who dream that Bobby Motaung must step down, that Bobby Motaung must go, it is a dream! Bobby Motaung goes nowhere. I was not appointed by ANC or IFP. I did not apply for this job, I did not submit a CV. My father invested his life in this club, this is a family business. You must understand that. I will be here as long as this company exists.”
Such arrogance is simply unacceptable to the legions of Amakhosi fans who pay good money to watch their side and buy their gold-and-black replica shirts. As I said on Thursdsay: No fans means no club. That is the universal mantra of global football, no matter who runs the club or how much money is pumped in to it.
I would love to delve further into the email exchanges, the twitter twangles, the Facebook furore, the kick-off.com conflicts (total responses number 3,000 and rising as I write) which surrounded Thursday’s blog, which gained more hits than any of my stuff, even during the World Cup last year when I was launching a stout defence of South Africa’s ability to host a near-perfect tournament.
Suffice to say, 90 percent of the responses were positive. A cruel minority were unbelievably personal and abusive. Many called for a boycott of their beloved club, starting in Polokwane on Saturday night, when they face Platinum Stars for a second successive week after last Sunday’s dreadful 2-1 Telkom Knock-out defeat.
Kaizer Motaung has ensured that boycott will not go ahead. The Peter Mokabe stadium will be rocking. Chiefs will kick-off against the Dikwena at 8.15pm on Saturday night with Tinashe Nengomasha captaining the team while goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, a good choice in my opinion, will take over the armband when he is fully recovered from a bout of pneumonia in a fortnight.
As always, the ageless Kaizer is one step ahead of the game. I believe his apology justifies everything I wrote on Thursday. It may even save Bobby Motaung’s job, though many are still calling for his head. But that isn’t the point. Below, lifted from the Kaizer Chiefs website, is the full text of the executive chairman’s statement.
Read it. Understand it. Kaizer Motaung may run a family business, but unlike his son, he recognises Kaizer Chiefs also belongs to the estimated 14 million Amakhosi fans within South Africa’s borders and beyond. Kaizer has given the club back to the people. End of.
The Executive Chairman’s Statement
Following the press conference yesterday when the team’s captaincy issue was addressed and at which the Football Manager made certain unfortunate comments, I would like to convey, with great humility, my heartfelt regret and unreserved apologies at the offence these comments have caused to many of our supporters; people who are at the heart of Kaizer Chiefs.
We are only here because of their support over the years and I would like to assure our supporters that we will never take their support for granted; we sincerely appreciate that Kaizer Chiefs’ success has been due to their unflinching support whether we have won or lost.
Like most teams we too have our challenges and because of our profile some of these challenges have to be addressed under the glare of the public eye. The emotive nature of the game of soccer means that, at times, comments are made in the heat of the moment and should be considered in that light. This is however not making light of certain comments which I consider are inappropriate.
We intend to do our utmost to honour the support we receive and I personally would like to reassure our supporters that my personal endeavour is to make them proud of being Kaizer Chiefs fans by winning and by conducting ourselves with grace and humility.
Mr. Kaizer Motaung, Executive Chairman