A commentary by Olando Testimony Zeongar
Yet again, the senior male national soccer team of my beloved Liberia, the Lone Star was humiliated a couple of days ago in Accra, Ghana, with a 3-1 thrashing at the hands of Ghana Black Stars – and just as I and other fellow compatriots were trying to once again swallow the bitter pill of incessant humiliations meted out against our country as a result of the lackluster performance of recent generation of players of our national team since the ebbing away of the generation of players dubbed “Weah-11”, then Adolphus Dolo, 2nd Vice President at the Liberia Football Association (LFA), just remorselessly added more fuel to the already blazing fire that has left our hearts broken, as a result of conceding yet another painful defeat.
Here is what I mean by Dolo adding more fuel to the already blazing fire – of all the organizational lapses and preparatory disorganization that have in recent times preceded all of the national team’s matches including last Tuesday’s international friendly between Ghana and Liberia in Accra, leading to the subpar performance of a rather ill-prepared Liberian national team, the FA 2nd Vice President elected to have taken the podium at the newly constructed modern headquarters of the LFA, to just elevate one sentence of a Ghanaian sports commentator, who, as a result of the uninspiring performance of players of the Lone Star likened the Liberian team to a Division-2 side in Ghana.
Here is what Dolo said: “We should not be discouraged because our team went to Ghana and performed miserably. I must be on record for this. The commentator who tried to ridicule Liberia yesterday, we find his remarks very offensive and we will make a proper representation. The game of football states that you should respect your opponent. Whatever our performance was yesterday, the adjective used to describe our team was very disrespectful.”
No, Mr. FA Vice President Adolphus Dolo, I beg to differ – what’s even more ridiculous and offensive is how football matters are being unimaginably underfunded and poorly operationalized in Liberia by you and your likes, and not the candid and somewhat factual analysis of one sports commentator who was simply doing his job, which in this case, as it has always been in sports journalism/ and or sports commentary, was to give a descriptive analysis of the event taking place at the Accra Sports Stadium between the Black Stars and the Lone Star on last Tuesday. For your information (FYI) Mr. FA 2nd Vice President, sports commentators or sportscasters provide real-time commentary of a game or event during a live broadcast, and the job they do; sports commentary, can be fun and diverse – so much so that your threat of claiming that you find his analysis of justifiably likening the Lone Star to any club playing in the Ghana Division-2 league, as being offensive and that you will make a proper representation to God knows who and where, is completely out of order to say the least. Really, Mr. FA 2nd Vice President, the commentator’s comments are ridiculing and offensive? What then is sports commentary, if it will mean only saying the nicest things even if they were as sloppy as the performance of the Lone Star against the Black Stars a few days ago? Sir, sports commentary is saying it as it is. I don’t see how you will win such a case in any court, be it in Heaven, on Earth, or beneath the Earth, especially when the recorded tape of the match wherein the Liberian side put up an awfully ridiculous performance is gone viral on the internet. So, in the event such tape were to be adduced as evidence whenever and wherever you intend to take up such matter, I am of the conviction, the commentator would be exonerated – even also by your own comment that the last Tuesday performance of the Lone Star was “Miserable.”
Yes, Mr. Dolo, Football Rules place a huge emphasis on respect for opponents, which goes to say good sportsmanship, which is applicable to competitors including players and coaches, or team supporters, must be exhibited at all times. But Mr. 2nd Vice President, what you need to also know is that the Law that emphasizes good sportsmanship is not all that the Laws of Football talk about, as the Laws of the game, are also supremely keen on the fairness of the ‘beautiful game’ which is the world’s most popular sport – fairness, as per the Laws of Football is a vital feature of the ‘spirit’ of the game, and in my mind, the Ghanaian commentator was fair in his analysis of that Lone Star team with tons of woefully ill-prepared footballers many of whom are lads that should still be effectively nurtured and rigorously groomed in the craft of modern-day soccer at the feeder teams’ level i.e. U-15, U-17, and U-20, from where they are to be graduated unto the senior national team and not just to pick them up from second and third division local clubs unpolished and dressed them up in our national team’s jersey to represent over 5 million people against very prepared teams of other nations.
Mr. Dolo, good sportsmanship is more than just being nice to others. It means being fair and ethical, and the commentator, in my mind, was no doubt, fair to have called a spade a spade regarding a poor-performing Lone Star against a better-prepared side – he was also ethical, as he did justice to the journalism profession by upholding the element of being factual. In my opinion, he did his audience justice by reporting the clear fact and did not embellish the truth as you are inferring that you would have rather had him do.
Did you say the commentator’s comments were disrespectful, Mr. Dolo? No, Mr. 2nd Vice President. I think to say so is a contradiction of yourself. Go back to the opening stage of your statement, when you emphatically stated that the Lone Star performed miserably against the Black Stars. Mr. 2nd Vice President, in this case, if anyone is disrespectful here I think that should be you – how dare you tell the Liberian people that their national team, whose managerial responsibilities have been entrusted in the care of those of you at the LFA, is being managed or should I say mismanaged in a way that their team now puts up ‘miserable performances’? Yet, you have the unbridled audacity to shift blame on a sports commentator who was just doing his job by exposing a job that you folks at the FA have not done so well over the years.
Mr. 2nd Vice President, instead of shamelessly going after a sports commentator for doing his job on the grounds that he was being disrespectful in his comments and so according to you, he’s guilty of breaching the good sportsmanship law that should be upheld in the game of football, I urge you yourself to uphold that very law that speaks of good sportsmanship, as it just does not only mean to be respectful, but also being willing to learn from the mistakes that made the Lone Star to have lost, and what led to the commentator describing our team in such manner as he did. It’s time that men like you and others at the helm of footballing in our country begin to understand that whenever the Lone Star loses, rather than take it out on others, you all should try as hard as possible to go back on the drawing board, learn from your mistakes, and work harder to increase our national team’s chances of future success.