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MBABANE – Unfair, unsportsmanlike and a cancer that kills local football.

The above assertion summarises pages 31 to 33 of the Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) 2021/2022 Annual Report. The subject of the three pages is muti (loosely translated to ‘a belief in the supernatural in order to win or to make another lose games’) and the PLE was short of categorising it as the biggest curse to football in the country. The report was presented to members of the topflight football organisation on Saturday, August 13, 2022, and never had the organisation dedicated so much space and time to such a subject before.

The PLE reported that the muti scourge in the country had grown to the extent of being practiced in broad daylight by the teams. The report states that the clubs were observed in the past season engaging in a variety of misconducts such as pouring of liquids, sprinkling of powders and salt, and other actions supposedly for invoking supernatural forces. According to the PLE, the practice of muti stunts breaks all 10 tenets of FIFA Fair Play. The FIFA tenets are the code of belief for the football body and they include; play to win, play fair, accept defeat, observe laws of the game, respect, promote interest of football, and resist corrupting pressures. Other tenets include rejecting corruption, denouncing those who discredit football and honour those who defend it.

“Muti introduces an unfair element where the result is determined elsewhere and muti is inherently not fair. Losing to a team that you believe used muti against you leaves a bitter taste and does not enhance the friendship that football is known for. Muti users engage in a variety of unsportsmanlike conduct from pouring liquids, salt, black powders and other substances. It is disrespectful and endangers opponents, referees, officials and spectators,” reads the report.


The PLE further indicated in the report that the use of muti was a threat to sponsors and investors in football. They said muti had become a serious problem that needed the attention of the sporting fraternity. “The financial state of the game is somewhat precarious in some countries, and there might be outside pressures that could damage the game. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep corruption out of the game. Muti introduces a corrupt element into our football; please help us keep it out. “Let each one practise whatever they believe away from the stadium. Let us denounce those who use muti at football games and let us honour everyone that supports a clean, free and fair football league in Eswatini,” said the PLE. The elite teams’ governing body further lamented the use of muti by club marshals who were allowed to the mixed zones of the stadium. PLE said such acts spoil the game for everyone and drive away sponsors and other partners.  

The office further proposed to suspend, ban or fine any person, whether he or she was a supporter or an official, found practising muti anywhere in the stadium. “We propose to increase the fine, especially for those who use foreign substances during games and also consider docking points for serial offenders. To curb the misconduct, member clubs are requested to introduce measures to educate, control and discipline their supporters and fans,” said the PLE. The main sponsors of the PLE, MTN Eswatini, requested not to comment on the matter, at least not before they appraised themselves with the report tabled by the PLE. The PLE is made up of 16 teams in the Premier League and 14 teams in the First Division League.

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