This was my sentiments just a few hours after Orlando Pirates striker Thamsanqa Gabuza was seen making his way to the Peter Mokaba Stadium change rooms midway through the first half of the club's Absa Premiership clash against Black Leopards on Tuesday night.
After delivering the cross that saw Leopards defender Thivhavhudzi Ndou turn the ball into his own net for the Buccaneers’ opening goal in the 34th minute, Gabuza surprisingly threw his shirt into the crowd before storming off the pitch while signalling for a substitution.
The signal, which is often used at stadiums throughout the country to taunt underperforming players, evidently riled the 31-year-old up to a point where he felt he had to ‘stick it’ to those gathered in the stands.
His reaction was unwarranted for any professional footballer in any scenario and ought to be condemned; however, more than a footballer, he is also a human being who gives his best efforts in pursuing his passion.
Gabuza has an impeccable off-the-field record and is hardly featured in the media for reasons other than his football, and as such it is fair to assume he is a hard worker who does enough behind the scenes to at least feature in the technical team’s matchday plans.
Considering this, it is understandable that the former Golden Arrows striker would feel overwhelmed by the hate he has constantly been subjected to from the very people who profess their love for the Pirates brand.
Though his goal returns make for unsatisfactory reading as a striker, the Bafana Bafana international seems to have garnered the support of each of the coaches he has played under in his career.
His teammates and colleagues from other clubs past and present have also come out in solidarity to stand by Gabuza, who can only bounce back from this through support and encouragement.
Pirates would do well to provide a platform for Gabuza to issue a public apology for his outburst, while this is also an opportune time to educate supporters on the effects of over-criticism and abuse in an effort to make themselves heard.
Supporters have every right to feel and show their frustrations at underperforming players, as they do towards coaches when results are not forthcoming. However, there is a fine line between critiquing and abusing, as well as acting in protest and contempt.
Incidents such as the abuse towards Gabuza, as well as his reaction, and the contempt with which former Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela was forced out last season should have no place in the beautiful game watched by many young people vulnerable to miseducation.
As footballers and supporters, we all have a duty to act within an acceptable standard so as to not bring the game into disrepute, as well as to not endanger fellow members of society.