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Wednesday, 9 February, 2000, 17:00 GMT
Should footballers be taught a lesson?

The Ivory Coast football team got three days hard military training after crashing out of this year's Cup of Nations.

Saddam Hussein had the Iraqi team flogged for poor performance; Leyton Orient's Terry Howard was sacked at half time!

These may be extreme cases of football fanaticism but should well-paid footballers be taught a lesson for not effectively representing their team or country? Or are we being too hard on them. After all, it's 'only a game'. HAVE YOUR SAY

It is clearly cruel and unjust for governments to treat their footballers like this. It also puts unfair pressure not just on the unfortunate players who may be punished, but on the other team and particularly the referee. Referees might well shy away from a fair decision if they think a player might be flogged as a result. FIFA, the African Football Confederation or other appropriate bodies should ban from competition the teams of countries who act like this.
Chris Dunlop, UK

I wonder where we are heading to in Africa. This is a type of precedented human abuse. Should we send the government to forced military service when the economy performs poorly. There is a double standard here. Why did Guei not capture the former president and sentence him to life military service? This is outrageous and African sits down quietly and watches. God help us.
Yebila mo Langmia, Bali, Cameroon

The only reasonable way to punish an "unpatriotic" footballer is to leave him out of the team, and ignore him. But military drills? You might as well execute every doctor who has lost a patient.
Dele Adeyi, Nigeria/USA

If a footballer should be punished for anything it should be for bringing the game into disrepute, not for failing to win. Footballers get away with incidents on the pitch that would have them arrested if they did them off the pitch. Also, considering that they are in the public eye and seen to many youngsters as role models we should not condone their actions on or off the pitch. Beckham's driving licence fiasco is a prime example.
Matt Gaffney, UK

The situation in Cote d'Ivoire was just another example of African foolishness. It's not like the players weren't trying to win. I'd not be surprised if the players refused to return to Africa. Football is more than a game, but it's not life.
Dawit, Ethiopian in New York

We are in the 21st century and are supposed to be a civil society. There is nothing civil about flogging sportsman or giving them hard labour just over a game of football or any other sport for that matter, for goodness sake are we losing the plot. How can politicians get like this over a game of football, just another example of not concentrating on the real matters of the world.
Simon, UK

If players should be punished for their performance on the pitch, it should be by not being selected ever again for the national team. Being arrested by the military is absolutely unacceptable. The military is no more qualified to give the national team football advice as the players are to give the army tactical suggestions. Other countries have been disappointed by their footballers, but no national army, in Africa or elsewhere, has ever done something like this.
Brian Farenell, USA

Someone made the comment that it was a shame for Africa! Why? Cote d'Ivoire is one of over 50 sovereign African nations? These are the actions of Cote d'Ivoire. CI alone carries the burden!
Joe, England

What many of the prima donna's seem to forget is that they are in first instance entertainers, and as such should give 100% all the time and behave in manner that football fans everywhere expect. Secondly and more in importantly (particularly English players) when playing for their respective countries, they should realise just how many people are watching them and expecting nothing less from them, than the very best. All internationals need a sharp reminder of just how many of their countrymen expect them to be the very best role models.
Derek Hammond, Brazil

I really feel players are not really treated well, because in the game of football they should always be a winner and a loser. Authorities and fans should learn to accept defeat. We cannot all be winners. Hard luck to those knocked out of the competition there is always next time and only time will tell. Once beaten, twice shy.
Rasblak, Botswana

Sportsmen sacrifice enough for their sport. Not only are their sporting performances scrutinised by the media but also their private lives. The media alone has the power to demoralise any sportsman in front of the whole country.
Matt, UK

If the team did not perform to exception than the people involved should study what went wrong. By punishing the players, as in the case of the Ivory Coast, will only prevent the sport from improving. What's the use of the BRAIN when you don't use them.
Manoj, Malaysia

This is a bit OTT, although some players would certainly deserve it. Step forward Stan Collymore, Pierre Van Hoojdonk, Savo Milosevic and all the other spoilt Prima Donna's who take the fans' money and then treat their club like a public convenience.
Ed Bayley, USA (English)

What a shame to force our players to spend three days for a military training after their bad performance in African soccer cup. We, Africans, need to be more responsible about ourselves. I don't think that that was the best way to resolve that matter. All the actors should be around one table and let everybody speaks without any gunpoint pointed to that person.
Alexis Zepouka, USA

Hey don't knock it! It worked for the ancient Egyptian pharaohs Those slaves built the pyramids so well because they were whipped and punished for not working hard enough. Maybe the team will improve with a few more punishments like this!
Mullah, United Arab Emirates

Maybe dishing out a bit of hardship to the top players every once in a while is a good move. It will make the obscene amount of money they make seem a bit more well earned.
Nicholas Bradley , U.K (in U.S)

Many people thought that it is very easy to play any kind of sport. We should always encourage our players regardless of the outcome.
Thomas Salako, Nigeria, USA

This is a very sad story in that we are on the verge of mixing politics and sports when sports should be a celebration of human talent and not a tool for political image.
Eric, USA

Yes! Yes! Yes! Most African footballers are becoming too big headed, especially the ones playing for Western teams. Considering that the money the players wasted could have been better used to buy antibiotics and painkillers for all the sick people in the hospitals, they (players) should thank the Junta for being considerate and just giving them a light smack!
Stobela Limumba, Ivory Coast

Punishing footballers for not winning? How far will African leaders go to abuse their power? Those of us who were saying "Hosanna" to Robert Guei might now think of calling for his crucifixion. My hat off to the Lions
Cillaty Daboh, USA/Sierra Leone

How can army come in between the sports? Someone has to lose.
Moez, Canada

You may not like the military but they are doing the right things up to now. We love them to our soul. Ivory Coast people are happy about them so why are FIFA and OAU not?
Kone, Ivory Coast

I think all footballers should be disciplined more (especially here in the UK). The dreadful display on pitches here is disgusting and the fines pathetic. It's time it was sorted out.
Matt, UK

If all this excessive military punishment to sports chaps aims at promoting patriotism and national pride, then the strategy is totally counterproductive. Those players are likely to feel less proud of their country than they were before and may be reluctant to joining their national team next time.
Ladislas Bizimana, Rwanda/UK

This is ridiculous. I couldn't believe it when I first read it. These players are not like babies with diapers to punish them for not playing good. I think so, the Ivory Coast government should have learn the nature of football game. It is to win, lose or draw. Even sometimes the great Manchester United get beaten by some weak clubs. If the Ivory Coast government believe only to win, I advise them to watch Britain Premier League.
Yacob Gaim, Eritrean-American

In the game of football there must always be a winner and a loser. That was a shame to the authorities. I wonder what they would have done if these players won not only the Nations Cup but played to quarter final level in the World Cup. Send them on a trip to the Moon? Politicians should learn to watch the game the way it is played, players play well, and management manage well, ten the game will be interesting.
Kigha Godbless Lashengang, Denmark/Cameroon

If the Ivory Coast players were punished for not winning, then what should the people do to their government for failing to provide them with jobs, better social services and a high standard of living?
Christopher Okumu, Sweden

The case of detaining the Ivorien team by the military is a very sad and disgraceful act. I mean at a time when the whole world is looking to Africa to host the world cup. Fifa should put their feet down and put an end to this nonsense. After all its only a game.
Ajayi Olumide, Nigeria/Canada.

Foreign teams like those in Europe have legitimate reasons to refuse African players to go and play for their national teams. They may come back colonels or lieutenants NOT football players
Kenneth Makalande, Blantyre Malawi

This is exactly why my mum refused to make me play soccer at the league level and insisted on me pursuing my education. These terrible treatment of athletes has been going on at the club level where players are beaten when their teams losing games. I think the only punishment that could have been levied is taking away some of there compensations which is chicken change to what most of them make. Just a simple reminder, "IT IS A GAME" and there are "WINNERS" and "LOSERS".
Denton Guy-Williams, Two Time Olympian Rep. Sierra Leone/ U.S.A.

How brilliant, the key to improved football performance is military training. After all this training produced such talent as Abacha, Babangida and Idi Amin. Only the brilliance of the African soldier could come up with this.
Beatus, Nigeria,

In the first place, why do they perform poorly? I believe it is due to mismanagement and lack of discipline. I think both management and players are accountable. But please don't flog them. Train them how to be accountable and they will do better next time.
Abebe Kebede, USA

This action taken by the military government is frightening. What will they do next? Will they force students who fail their exams in state universities into military service. It's a blunder by the Guei government and a wake up call for the people of Ivory Coast. This kind of action must not happen anywhere in this day and age
Sango Epie, USA

It absolutely not necessary and to greater extent a violation of the players' human rights to be treated in this way. But if the reports reaching in Ghana which indicate that the players demanded and got paid their full bonuses up to the finals, then I'm afraid they spelt their own doom. The players should learn to die a little for their country as they do for their foreign clubs.
Francis Eshun-Baidoo, Ghana

It is only a game played by men whose claim to fame is the ability to kick a ball accurately 20m. So what! The media is too obsessed with sports!
Will, UK

I could not believe it when I first read the article. That is nonsense! Ivory Coast should apologise for treating its own sportsmen like that. Those boys are just human beings, and in any sport you can not guarantee winning all the time
Clement Terence Chiwaya, Malawian student in USA

I find it preposterous to punish footballers for having an off day. Football is a game, this being the case, there is always a winner and a looser. In very isolated cases, people overreact when foul play is suspected. This is inappropriate and should be out-rightly discouraged. What we need is positive-reinforcement not a negative one.
Sinleh Samorah, Sierra Leone/Holland

I believe that the Ivory Coast players were hard done by, but you have to realise that in this country football is a passion which everyone gets involved with. Having said this to force the Ivory Coast into military service is outrageous.
Jon Sainsbury, England

Most international players get so much money that the fee for playing for their country is a pittance in comparison. Having said that I think that most players relish the opportunity to play for their country and try their best. Sometimes it's good enough sometimes it's not, but by punishing them you can be pretty much assured that the overseas players will refuse to play next time they are called up.
Neil, USA

This is outrageous! It is a shame for the game of soccer and for Africa. Soccer is meant to be a game that unites people. It is not meant to be a war. Sport and politics should not have anything in common. Until African leaders understand that, the future of African soccer will always be in doubt.
Claudin F.N., Canada/Cameroon

This gesture from the military junta in Ivory Coast is barbarism in its purest sense. It's a humiliation to the entire continent and such behaviour by undemocratic leaders should not be tolerated, (but again, what do we expect from people who rely on force to get things done).
Serge TShamala, USA/Congo

I would like the person who took this decision medically examined. And to imagine that this set of people are the ones making economical and political decision for the country, no wonder we have so many problems in Africa.
Okebugwu, Nigeria

What a great idea, someone should have sent the Man United squad to an Army camp as punishment for doing so poorly in the World Club Championship. A week's hard work would stop their whinging. In fact half of them could have done with it again after their referee assault the other weekend.
Dan, UK

It is madness to punish footballers who failed to perform. The simple question is; the person punishing them - can he play?
Michael U Adikwu, Germany

On behalf of sports-loving Africans, I sincerely apologise to FIFA and those patriotic Ivorien footballers over this embarrassment. This is not how we are in Africa; somebody just snapped.
Gowin Nwaogwugwu, Nigeria/ USA

As a football fan, I find it very disturbing that players from Ivory Coast received such a harsh and humiliating treatment from the military government. I hope that some form of sanction should be imposed on the government of Ivory Coast by the organising body. The players should also take legal action against the government.
Dr. Dennis Kwesi Agboh, USA

Military training is absolutely ridiculous, that is a violation of human rights and the Government should be penalised for that. Usually the National Association is the one that faces suspended or fined, but the world should realise that the National Football Associations in Africa are not independent of the government. I certainly think that the International body for Human Rights should investigate and take this matter seriously. This is not the only African country to do this, to say the least.
Eddie Mukahanana, USA/Zimbabwe

I think it is wrong for footballers to be punished for poor performances because it is just a game and sometimes your best is not enough. It is supposed to be for fun and whatever happens there will always be a winner so in that case the loser should not suffer. I know football is like a religion in Africa and people use this as a source of national identity and honour. If the nation does well then sometimes it inflames into nationalistic tendencies. I think it is wrong and Fifa should take strong action against these countries and the personalities involved so that it never happens again. A stitch in time saves nine.
Eric Aboagye, UK

Detaining of sportsmen because of their perceived unpatriotic act of losing is nonsense. Whether we like it or not sports are entertainment and not a religion. It would be foolhardy to punish the footballers when the so-called military leaders are still deciding when democracy will be established. Football in Africa and the whole world, belongs to the people. When government start to mess with sports it basically shows that they have no business of being the custodians of the instruments for governance.
Moses Nekyon, USA

We should not forget that football is after all just a game. Countries should not play out their political aspirations through sport, but that does not mean to say that highly paid footballers should not be held accountable for poor performance, just not in the dramatic ways noted in the introduction or as in the instant case.
Duncan, UK

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