African footballers don’t have it easy – study

A new global study has revealed that African footballers have it rough. We chat to Tim Sukazi about some of the biggest challenges faced by South African soccer players

The International Federation of Professional Footballers (Fitpro) has conducted the largest global survey into the complexities of global football, BBC reports.

The survey had a population of almost 14 000 professional footballers across 54 countries and more than 3 000 of the surveyed players were from 13 African countries which included Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Namibia, Morocco, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Gabon, Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt and South Africa.

We spoke to renowned sport agent Sukazi about some of the biggest challenges faced by South African footballers specifically. Sukazi says that many South African footballers are often not so much schooled in the business of football and because of this they tend to get themselves into compromising situations.

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REPRESENTATION

“Many times a player will land in the wrong hands early on and this can have bad and lasting effects throughout their whole career. This especially happens when players find themselves represented by people that are either unqualified, or don’t have the necessary experience,” he explains.

These players will often be compromised along the way and this compromise will extend when a player gets into a contract with a club.

“If our footballers could be schooled very early on the all-round football ball, I think their challenges that they face over time will be reduced,” Sukazi says.

COACHING 

Many South African footballers don’t take too well to harshness and often head coaches are quite harsh and strict on the players, he says.

“South African footballers take time to adjust to that environment while our African counterparts don’t necessarily see any problem with it. I think it’s more background-related because when you compare our players’ experiences to our African counterparts, you could easily conclude that our players are quite spoilt,” Sukazi explains. “They prefer to be treated with kid gloves while football is a tough game,” he says.

Say for instance a player gets a punch from his colleague, or a push from his coach or whatever – those things happen, they’re not abuse at all, it’s normal in the game of football

Sukazi explains that when South African players struggle to adjust to the harsh coaching environment, it takes time for them to break into the professional space.

ABUSE 

According to the survey, African footballers experience the worst “physical abuse” by either club seniors, other players or fans. Sukazi profusely disagrees with this.

“Generally, our players don’t experience issues such as physical abuse, other than what normally happens in training. I’ve played football up until the highest level so I know that on a daily basis at training that there will be some conflict between players themselves, or players and coaches,” Sukazi explains.

He further explains that these happen only at training and they end there and therefore football people take it as normal and it doesn’t amount to abuse in their world.

“Say for instance a player gets a punch from his colleague, or a push from his coach or whatever – those things happen, they’re not abuse at all, it’s normal in the game of football,” Sukazi says.