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Why local sports media need to be extremely careful

SACKED Young Africans Head Coach, Mwinyi Zahera, has had quite a media space this week, pulverizing his former employers over a variety of issues.

Of course, I have no problem with his democratic right to say what he has said; But I have a lot of problems with the media that afforded him such a space without allowing, simultaneously, his former employers to defend themselves over allegations leveled against them.

Even if they allow the Young Africans’ leadership to respond to Mwinyi Zahera’s allegations, it would not help as the damage has already been done!

According to the Congolese (DRC) coach, he paid for Yanga players’ food, not once, but several times in South Africa, Zambia when the club played against Zesco and in Mwanza before they took on their Egyptian counterparts, the Pyramid.

Zahera said while in Mwanza, he paid for the players’ food in the presence of the club’s vice-chairman, Mwakalebela. And while in Zambia, Zahera says he paid 200 dollars, twice, so that his players could practice on an artificial soccer pitch.

The Congolese coach, however, admitted that the club had promised to refund him all the money he had been paying for food and other services provided to the players. However, what beats me about the Congolese coach is, if the coach was really employed by Young Africans, where was he getting the money he was paying for the players?

My second problem over Zahera’s allegations is, if the Young Africans’ leadership had promised to refund him the money he had spent on the players, why was he divulging such information to the public? What does he want to gain, public sympathy?

How long did he expect to say in the club after losing two matches at home and away? If you listened to what Zahera says, Young Africans must be a very disorganised club. You wonder how it settles its bills, locally and internationally, when the coach is supposed to be paying for the players’ food.

What is more interesting, Zahera talks of settling the players’ food and other bills, but he does not tell the public where he gets the money to settle the players’ bills and the interviewers don’t pin down the man on where he gets the money which Yanga leaders don’t seem to have!

What Zahera does not however, say is who has been paying the players’ air tickets and hotel bills to Lusaka, Zambia, South Africa and Egypt. The Congolese coach is also silent over who paid the players’ bills during the club’s participation in the Champions League before their elimination and subsequent transfer to the CAF Cup soccer tournament.

But as I have already noted, the media that provided Zahera the space to take on his employers should have had his employers in the same interview so that they could have responded to Zahera’s allegations.

I’m saying that because what Zahera has said about Young Africans’ management is damaging not only to the club’s chairman and his vicechairman, but also to the image of the club which Zahera admits is a big club with a very big image in the eyes of the public not only in Tanzania but also in the region.

But signs that Zahera was a loose missile were very clear when he engaged Simba Sports Club in a baseless war of words and I was personally quick to remind him and his employers the danger of their coach taking on another club rather than concentrating on what he had been hired to do.

Therefore, if Young Africans’ management owes the coach anything, my advice to them is pay him as soon as possible before they get further soaked in the puddle.

But our media, both mainstream and social, need to be more responsible when it comes to allegations against people, and especially so, when those making such allegations have an axe to grind against their former friends, employers or relatives.

This is not to say our media should not give space to people like Zahera and company, far from it. But the point is, if they decide to give media space to a person like Zahera who has already been sacked (and is therefore angry against his former employers) then the media should also give his employers the right of reply in the same space not later, but simultaneously.

By giving Zahera more than ample media space, and in the absence of his employers, the media in question condemned Young Africans’ management unheard and that is grossly unfair. Cases of foreign soccer coaches complaining against their former employers in Tanzania are not new.

Even the former Taifa Stars chief coach who took the team to the Afcon finals in June this year, Emmanuel Amunike, complained about the TFF not paying his salaries and other fringe benefits. But, he did not go into washing the proverbial dirty linen in public.

I’m quite sure the Nigerian had a lot of other unpleasant complaints against the federation. But he confined himself to salaries and fringe benefits and that is what it should be.

The danger of washing dirty linen in public is that you close the opportunity of being employed elsewhere. Indeed, After making the kind of allegations he made against Young Africans’ leadership, which club in the region would go for Zahera much as he arguably, a very good coach.

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Mwandishi: ATTILIO TAGALILE

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