Opinion: Justifying Kambwili’s Buffoonery
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) disciplinary committee recently sanctioned three Zamalek players for physically attacking a match official after a Champions League fixture against TP Mazembe.
On July 8, 2014, Mazembe beat Zamalek 1-0 in Lubumbashi but players of the visiting Egyptian side felt hard done by the performance of the match official and descended on him with some physical counseling.
According to a report submitted to CAF, Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey was physically attacked when he sounded the final whistle in a game Zambia’s Rainford Kalaba scored the all-important goal. Zamalek players were displeased with Lamptey’s officiating and took football matters in their hands to give the Ghanaian a lifetime lecture on how to “professionally” handle matches.
Similarly, Zambians – though victors – were not happy with the manner in which a certain Ethiopian referee attempted to rob their team of an important win with two alleged dubious penalties right in their backyard last Saturday.
Fortunately for referee Tessema Weseya, Nkana managed to beat Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel 4-3 to record their first win in the CAF Confederation Cup. But it was still not enough to spare referee Weseya Chishimba Kambwili’s tantrums. Leading the onslaught was sports minister Kambwili in similar circumstances the Zamalek players accosted the match official.
Kambwili allegedly issued some verbal assault on the match official, comments he 24 hours later denied ever making, and has since threatened legal action against scribes that transmitted those words to the larger audience.
However, pictures emerging from Nkana stadium captures Kambwili invading the pitch
and accosting the heavily guarded match officials. Kambwili’s gesture in these images is not those of a man saying “hello” or “congratulations for a job well done”.
The man in Nigeria regalia is seemingly fuming and issuing what those who were around him will term “unprintable”.
Graciously, Kambwili admits accosting the referees and telling them something; whatever it was he denies it had anything to do with “stupid” as journalists Abigail Chaponda, Kalumiana Kalumiana and other credible sources within earshot of the incident conveyed to the bigger audience.
There is no doubt the levels of refereeing especially in Africa are sub-standard and sometimes a sham. Various reasons can be attributed to this. Infact, few will forget memories of one Jean-Fidel Diramba – the Gabonese match official – ‘credited’ for denying Zambia a possible appearance at her first World Cup in US ’94.
From the comfort of our joints (most likely watching on black and white 18 to 20 inches television sets since no plasmas were insight then), we saw how the likes of Kalusha Bwalya, Charles Musonda, James Phiri, Elijah Litana and Harrison ‘Wawa’ Chongo were denied a golden opportunity by some clear and biased officiating when Zambia lost 1-0 to Morocco in 1993.
Yet not even the noise by masses that were mobilized to chant “We want Replay” on Cairo Road reached the FIFA or CAF offices. They fell on deaf ears and Africa has continued struggling with poor match officiating.
And one will expect a Stylish Roan United fan like Kambwili (he is not a known Nkana fan unless he is one of those populist followers that has jumped on the bandwagon in the euphoria of the Kitwe side) to have even the slightest of knowledge or understanding of how to behave in matters of poor match officiating.
Kambwili may deny he did not utter any words to demean the match official but that’s secondary in this case. The mere fact Kambwili left his VVIP seat to remonstrate against the referee on the field of play constitutes a serious breach of international football regulation. Kambwili had no business on the pitch after the final whistle because the only time he should be found there is before kick-off, anything thereafter amounts to pitch invasion.
You don’t have to be a football follower to know or understand the nature of Nkana fans. Even their own FAZ have banned them more than once in the last five years for rowdy fans behaviour.
And for a public official like Kambwili to behave in that manner is sheer
A public official displaying such behaviours can be blamed for inciting the ever charged and ready to strike Nkana fans. Maybe Kambwili will find delight in causing a disaster at Nkana. After all, he will be happy to re-name the Nkana stadium to something Disaster.
If CAF handed Mauritanian Dominique Da Silva a three-match ban and a $5,000 fine, his two other colleagues at Zamalek Abdel Rehim Mahemoud and Hazem Emam one match ban and a $3,000 fine, then Kambwili should expect his fair share of punishment since he is treated like an egg in PF where he can insult diplomats (foreign affairs) or investors (labour) and still be promoted to the Ministry of Sport where he would transport his buffoonery. He’ll be lucky to escape.
Sadly Kambwili’s behaviour, backed by a vigorously giggling National Sports Council chairman Mwamba Kalenga, has the potential to play into Zambia’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations bid. CAF executives will have a second thought of giving Zambia a vote because they will fear the safety of their match officials if government officials are in the forefront of inciting hooliganism.
Instead of demanding an apology from journalists or newspapers, it’s Zambians who expect Kambwili to apologise or at best resign for what may constitute a charge of “bringing the name of the game into disrepute”. Anything less than an apology to Zambians by Kamwbili is justifying his buffoonery which has no place in Zambian football or beyond.