THE indiscipline plague that has long haunted football in Fiji just does not go away.
Time and again, the same old story. Players are cited for breaking camp, going on drinking spree or other misconducts mostly during tournaments.
Then they are summoned before the disciplinary committee and what happens next is becoming too common — the fine and pardon bit.
The recent case of Labasa players holding their association at ransom prior to a game at the IDC is of real concern.
This is getting out of hand. Players taking such drastic action. However, like they say, there are two sides to a coin.
There could be more to what we have been told by the Labasa Football Association.
We have only heard one side of the story. Why did the players do what they did?
Why did the Labasa side fail to perform as expected despite fielding so many big names?
Why was a talented player like Pita Bolaitoga kept on the bench against Navua and only rushed on when the lowly-rated Red Devils netted a surprise opener in Lions' 1-3 defeat?
The LFA summoned 18 players to a disciplinary hearing. Some turned up, some didn't, some asked for more time citing personal commitment.
Judging from past experiences and reading and hearing some interviews by LFA officials, there is a likelihood that some or most players will get away with a warning, fine and could even make the trip to New Zealand for the Pacific Cup next month. I read about how some players could be "pardoned" as they were forced to or influenced into doing what they did "by senior players".
That's a very lame excuse. It's like some first offenders being influenced into committing a serious crime and then being pardoned for being "forced" into the act by hardened criminals.
Most Labasa players are either national reps or national age-group reps.
They all knew what they were doing.
This problem is here to stay, like an incurable disease.
Every now and then you hear and see players taking a verbal swipe at officials or holding the association at ransom.
This keeps coming back to haunt us because there is nobody to hear the grievances of players.
Take a closer look at it.
There is no proper channel for the players to follow to take up their hue and cry if they are unhappy about something.
Whether they are right or wrong, they could always be shut down.
Remember, it is the players that make the game.
Their welfare is top priority. Unfortunately, in Fiji, there is only one supreme body — the associations affiliated under the Fiji FA.
So what they say and do will always be deemed right, but I am very certain that players can't be wrong all the time.
When you do the crime, be ready to do the time.
The LFA needs to come down hard on their players if they are serious about restoring some credibility after a dismal outing at the IDC.
Firstly, the players performed poorly.
Secondly, they held the LFA to ransom.
That's very unsportsmanlike.
Suspension is the way to go unless the LFA wants to follow the old-age Fiji football trend of pardon and fine.
For as seen in the past, that's one way of cashing in on some quick bucks.
On the brighter side, it is time the Fiji FA and district association introduce a Players Welfare Association.
Our footballers need a voice.
They need it, they deserve it because for long these players have suffered in silence.