Safpu’s quest to find ‘justice’ for former Golden Arrows midfielder, Clifton Miheso has seen them start a campaign in order to get Fifa president Gianni Infantino to force the South African Football Association [Safa] to investigate.
As always there are two sides to a story, and the only way we will know the truth and full story is if the matter is investigated properly.
Infantino is in South Africa for his address to the heads of African football in a two day summit. Safpu already picketed outside the summit’s venue.
At the centre of the drama, Miheso was allegedly forced to sign his contract termination documents at gunpoint by Arrows and the players union is seeking justice for the Kenyan international. What's Golden Arrows, the PSL and Safa's view on the matter? Nearly all members are quiet on the matter, preferring not to muddy the waters. Where's the fire in all the smoke looking back?
SAFPU WANTS FIFA INVOLVED
“We are picketing outside the Safa house and we have started a hashtag [#], the justice for Miheso campaign as an organization because we will not let this happen," said Safpu deputy general secretary Nhlanhla Shabalala.
“All we want is for justice to prevail, especially in a democratic country where people have the freedom of expression, victimization cannot be normal.
“The situation is that Golden Arrows have denied what happened, they say it is an allegation. We have written a letter to Golden Arrows, cc’d Safa’s Dennis Mumble on that and he is very much aware of what we are requesting as an organization. In it we asked Arrows to clarify what really happened and their response was that there is no need for them to because it is an allegation.
“When this comes to your attention, you realise that Safa did nothing as the authority of football in the country.
“It is a criminal activity that a player will be forced to terminate a contract with a gun over his head. A contract that was signed peacefully in mutual agreement. Now, why the same thing can’t be done when the team decides that they do not need the services of the player? They must sit down, engage and if they do not agree on the settlement and all the other things, there are procedures in place for all that. If you are not happy, you can take the issue up with the DRC, they know, Arrows understand the protocol.
“But they decided to behave like hooligans and threaten the life of a footballer, a Kenyan player as well, which paints a bad picture for our football as a country. It tarnishes the gains we’ve all fought for as a country and it is undermining the country.
“The Fifa president is in the country indeed and Safpu will do anything in our powers to meet the president. We have engaged FIFPro and we are just waiting to see if they have managed to secure us a meeting with the Fifa president before he leaves the country.
SAFPU ON THE INCIDENT
“Yes, we have spoken to the player, he has confirmed and said that two men walked in at the office and pointed a gun at him, forcing him to sign a termination letter.
“There are also a few radio interviews where he confirmed exactly what had taken place.
“We are dealing with his legal representatives from Kenya as well and we are working in collaboration to seek justice.
“And as an organization we have no grounds to doubt our member when he tells us that he underwent such trauma, an act of barbaric behavior and we are there for him and we will fight for him."
Head coach Clinton Larsen acknowledged partaking in a decision to release the player but could not divulge anything further.
"The technical team as well as management made a collective decision to terminate Miheso's contract, because we felt that he wasn't delivering as we would have hoped," Larsen said during a press conference recently, but refused to be drawn into comments regarding the conditions of Miheso's termination agreement.
"I think everybody's heard our chairlady [Mato Madlala] and her comments about the situation," he added.
"It is under investigation so I'm not at liberty to speak about it."
Safpu also added that attempts to engage on the matter further with the club were derailed by the union's restriction from entering the clubs premises.
"It is by no surprise that this happened at Golden Arrows because we [Safpu] are not granted access at Golden Arrows. The union is not allowed to access the premises of Arrows and service its members.
“Even though the labour laws are very clear, they state that workers must be organized at work but GA does not want players to belong to any union movement of their choice which is their democratic right.
“But this incident shows exactly why they didn’t want us to access their premises. Because it is normal for them to victimize players. It is a cause for concern because players have spoken to us on conditions of anonymity. This says a lot about what has happened but we are not shocked that it’s at Arrows."
IN MIHESO'S WORDS? TWO VIEWS
The most confusing matter in this situation is that there's two extremely differing reported views from the player, Miheso.
Firstly, the player was more recently quoted in the South African media to confirm that the gun episode did occur.
“The case is currently being handled by my representatives, and hopefully we can get justice. It is not good for a footballer to go through such kind of things. Everything caught me by surprise but I know at the end justice will be served,” Miheso told Capital Sport.
Back at home in Kenya, the Citizen Digital reported that this is how the incident allegedly transpired in a meeting between Arrows CEO Gordon Masondo in the office at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“In the meeting he asked me to sign the termination of my contract," said Miheso.
"When I refused, arguing that I needed to consult my agent first, he stormed out of the office. Minutes later, two men forced me to sign at gunpoint.
“They demanded the copy of my contract but I fled to the police station.”
Then Mato Madlala was called to solve the problem.
“She agreed to pay my signing on fee plus two months’ salary and effectively terminated the contract," said Miheso.
On the other hand, the Kenyan also signed a letter denying the incident, but it's also been pointed out that this might not be a genuine letter from the player. The letter was published on Golden Arrows official site, so if it is fake, then the club could be in further trouble.
Here's what the letter stated:
To Chairperson of Lamontville Golden Arrows
This is to state my dissappointment on the news claiming that you had me threatened. This is all incorrect infact I am grateful to you and everything you have done for me.
The termination agreement I signed is correct and I was not forced to sign it. I did this willingly and I have been paid everything due to me.
I wish to state my apologies for everything.
MADLALA ON PLAYERS' RIGHTS
“Why (does) Safpu want my permission to recruit my players to be their members?” asked Madlala.
“Take agents as an example. Almost 80% of my players have agents and none of those agents came to me to seek permission.”
“How does one victimise a player who is a member of the union?”
“Do we bench him or fire him from the club? If we were capable of doing that, the team would never get anywhere or have any players. We are not coaches, they are the only ones who can say they do or do not want a player in the team.”