Sometimes I wonder if all sportsmen actually realise that, especially Itumeleng Khune. His antics during and after Chiefs’ match against AmaZulu last week were an absolute joke.
In reaction to being booked for time-wasting, he threw the mother of all tantrums to rightfully see him ejected after a second yellow. The few toys he had left in the cot were flung out in the aftermath when he went on a Twitter rant to vent his anger at match officials.
I would expect the kind of shameful behaviour – during his on and off-field rants – from a hot-headed teenager. But we are talking about a 27-year-old who has led his country at the highest level and has been playing top flight football for over a decade. After an obvious rap on the knuckles from his Chiefs superiors, he issued a half-baked apology for his comments and must explain himself to the PSL during the course of the week. Are they actually giving him a chance to redeem himself? What a joke that would be if he gets off.
The red card automatically means a two-match ban, but the PSL should without a doubt take further action over the stupid Twitter rant. I think it would be justified to ban him for a further three matches – which means his season is over – as well as slap him with a heavy fine. Not a silly R2 000 he can take from his back pocket, but at least R20 000. It’s not like he can’t afford it.
Here we have a guy millions of football fans look up to and admire. His popularity is proven every year when football fans get the chance to vote for the teams to play in the season-opening Soweto derby. Of Chiefs and Pirates players, he annually tops the poll by a landslide.
In 2013 he also outscored his compatriots who actually achieved international success in a voting contest to be controversially crowned SA Sports Star-of-the-Year at Fikile Mbalula’s ambitious bash. On top of that he is also a regular recipient of some serious bling at the annual PSL awards.
Whether he actually deserved to beat swimming star Chad le Clos to take the top award two years ago is as irrelevant at this debate as to whether he actually deserved to be shown the first yellow card against Usuthu, on which the jury is still divided.
There are responsibilities that comes with being the big kahuna and one of them is not to bring the game into disrespute.
Khune should have accepted the yellow card as gracefully as does all his awards and move on to what he does best- keeping the ball out of his goal. If any player wants to behave like a child, then sadly he must be treated like one. By the way, it was Roger Federer I quoted in the opening paragraph. Surely if a man who has won a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles in the 138 years that major titles have been up for grabs can respect his ball game, anyone else can follow suit.