EDITORIAL: By calling his Wazito players hyenas, Badoer went too far, civility is key!

EDITORIAL: By calling his Wazito players hyenas, Badoer went too far, civility is key!

When Kenya’s football books are written, one man – Ricardo Badoer– a middle-aged rabble rousing and cigar-smoking Swede will perhaps occupy a whole chapter for himself, not by coincidence but by default.

The man who docked on Kenya’s football shores in 2018, flaunting his wealth to all and sundry, first by buying out then National Super League side Wazito FC in 2018, then following it up by gifting the club a state-of-the-art bus – a Mercedes Benz worth tens of millions – is causing all manner of trouble! His savage tongue knows no boundary. In his world, humility and civility are alien. But some background first.

When he docked on our shores driven by the desire make a statement of intent, Wazito, thanks to this man Badoer, signed several high profile players to beef up the squad with former Gor Mahia men Abouba Sibomana, a Rwandan international, and Karim Nzigiyimana, a Burundian, topping the list of marquee signings.

Add this to the fact that the reconstituted playing unit was poached on huge salaries then you understand the weight of it.

In so doing Badoer was building a team able to take on the might of Gor Mahia, so we were made to understand, to conquer Kenyan football and challenge the mightiest football clubs in Africa – his financial war-chest being the reagent.

His acts made us believe that he was the best gift ever to happen to our football, raising the hopes of his players, many of whom had gone through the perils and seen the dark side of it all – as far as football malpractices is concerned – in this part of the world where poor and delayed pay is the order of the day, just to mention but a few.

With Badoer on board, many of these players hoped that their suffering would be a thing of the past, and that in Wazito they had landed the super employer.

They hoped that contracts would be respected, haphazard sacking – a hallmark of KPL – would be a thing of the past and that systems and structures would be put in place to allow talents to seamlessly flourish – something akin to the western world.

They envisioned a club with a robust healthcare system where, say, if one got injured they would walk into any of the country’s top hospitals and get treatment and that club physios and doctors would be at hand to walk them through the rehabilitation journey. Simply put, these players thought that in signing for Wazito they’d reached the Promised Land – Canaan! Fast forward, it seems it was just a travesty.

Alpha and Omega

How wrong could they have been?! Badoer’s project is a pretence – hot air so to speak. Instead of building a football behemoth, sackings are the order of the day. Coaches come and go in quick succession – as the revolving door claims one after another.

First it was Frank Ouna, the man who guided the team through the National Super League campaign to earn promotion to the KPL only to be shown the door.

Exit Ouna, enter Fred Ambani, then Melis Medo to the very recent one Stewart Hall – they have exited the club under not so clear circumstances. In fact, in two years, since Badoer took charge, four coaches have handled the club with little success.

Spare a thought for American Melis Medo who was hired as the team’s head coach on Oct 24, 2019 and fired on Nov 21, 209 after lasting just 28 days on the job. With his exit came the highly regarded British coach Stewart Hall, who has won titles in the past in Tanzania with Azam and later coached Sofapaka in Kenya.

He too left last week, but at least the club bosses, Badoer himself, was magnanimous enough to thank him for his contribution, noting that his exit is as a result of Covid-19 pandemic and players who didn’t give their all.

But that is a fraction of the problems at Wazito where, seemingly, the elephant in the room is Badoer himself. At Wazito he’s the Alpha and Omega. He’s larger than life and does whatever he pleases.

Take for instance this week when the club terminated the contracts of 12 players among them Victor Ndinya, Teddy Osok, Derrick Otanga, goalkeeper Steve Njung’e, Kevin Omondi, Augustine Otu, Piscas Kirenge, Issioffu Bourahana, Paul Acquah et al.

Hardly had their sackings been made public than Badoer went on a Twitter rant, his tweet laced with derogatory, racial and demeaning words to the person of his players. He termed them outright lazy, hyenas among other expletives that we cannot reprint let alone air on our broadcast platforms.

For a man who prides in creating jobs and describes himself as an entrepreneur on his Twitter handle, this is a whole new low!

Shockingly, going by his tweeting records, it seems, insults and hurling obscenities is his favoured way of communication.

We would like to remind Badoer that the very players who’ve toiled for days, weeks and months, fighting to defend the club’s emblem, even when results do not go their way, do not deserve the shame and ridicule, least of all from the club owner and founder, someone they draw inspiration from.

Most importantly, these players are human. They not only deserve respect but should be treated with dignity. Badoer must be reminded that the players he called ‘hyenas and lazy’ are part of the Kenyan populace who welcomed him with open arms when he decided to set up shop in Kenya.

He may have offered them employment but that does not give him the moral high ground to demean them. Labour laws are clear. If he intends to kick any of them out, proper procedures must be followed!

For now, the least he can do is offer a public apology and pay them their dues. Football Kenya Federation and the Kenyan Premier League should, on the other hand, admonish him for his uncouth behaviour.

Civility is paramount and club bosses must lead from the front. Coming at a time when the world is united against racism with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement gaining currency across the globe it would be foolhardy for Kenya and stakeholders to turn a blind eye as Badoer perpetuates such illegalities. Human dignity is supreme.