COMMENT: Beyond the pitch: Fame doesn’t excuse crime

HOLDING individuals accountable for wrongdoing is crucial, regardless of their profession or status.

Football players should be held accountable for their actions, just like everyone else.

This is because sometimes the violent crimes of many footballers are often downplayed in the face of their football accomplishments and fame.

Ideally, footballers shouldn’t find themselves in any trouble.

This is because they are often role models for young people and have a significant platform to positively influence society.

When we don’t acknowledge the violent and awful pasts of these footballers, we are passively saying that football talent and popularity outweighs crimes like domestic violence, rape and even murder.

Now, every so often, a footballer will make the news over allegations of domestic violence, drug possession or maybe public intoxication.

Somewhere in this edition we carried a story of football star Wiston Mhango who is wanted by the police for allegedly damaging a door at their apartment where they are renting and for stealing US$1 200 and alcohol.

Mhango was involved in an altercation with his wife Primrose Sibanda when she accused him of blowing their money with his girlfriend.

It is said the short-tempered midfielder charged at his wife who reportedly sprinted and locked herself in the bedroom.

Mhango reportedly vented his anger on one of the doors as he kicked it leaving it badly damaged.

He allegedly opened the fridge where he stole whisky and cash.

As if that is not enough, last year he was arrested while he was turning out for ZPC Kariba after he was found in possession of mbanje, codeine and other illegal cough syrups.

He appeared in court and his contract was subsequently terminated by the Kariba-based football outfit.

Mhango also became tabloid fodder after he punched his wife with fists and hit her with a bottle at a city bar. The incident was reported to the police.

From Mhango’s case it is clear that while it’s natural to admire footballers for their skills and accomplishments on the field, it’s crucial not to forget the crimes they have committed against their friends and their loved ones.

We should not consider them heroes, for they are not. In our minds and conversations, these violent people should not be considered footballers who have committed acts of violence: They should be considered criminals who happen to play a sport.

Holding them accountable for their actions is essential, regardless of their achievements. If a footballer commits a crime, they should face the appropriate legal consequences and societal disapproval.

Separating the player from the act is important for maintaining a sense of justice and preventing hero worship of individuals who have engaged in harmful behaviour.

It’s crucial to remember that playing football doesn’t negate the responsibility for personal actions.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that footballers are human beings just like anyone else, so they are also susceptible to making mistakes, facing personal challenges and experiencing lapses in judgment.

While crime is never acceptable, there can be underlying factors beyond personal choice that contribute to individuals getting involved in illegal activities.

These might include socioeconomic pressures, lack of opportunity, or exposure to negative influences. Addressing these systemic issues is crucial for lasting change.

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