Over the past two weeks, Namibian football made international headlines for a variety of reasons. It started very badly for Namibia, with the national football coach, Roger Palmgren deciding to throw in the towel after barely two weeks of being at the steering wheel of the Brave Warriors.
In ended, of course with the Nigerian team being held to a 1-1 draw and deciding not to leave Namibia until their plea for bonuses has been addressed.
Palmgren’s arrival to Namibia was greeting with huge disapproval by a section of the die-hard soccer loving public.
The majority of them questioned the manner in which the Swede was given the nod ahead of 200 other applicants from all over the world who had, according to Namibia Football Association bosses, also expressed interest in the coaching job.
The negative sentiment against Palmgren subsided however when he commandeered the Brave Warriors ship through two draws against Zambia and Malawi, one being a friendly and the other a FIFA World Cup Africa Group F qualifying match, respectively.
After those two draws, Palmgren seemed to have crept into the hearts of the hard to please fans and gained some acceptance.
And so it should have been that Nigeria would be the biggest test for Palmgren and for a good number of the boys. It would be the ultimate baptism of fire.
As the nation was waiting with anticipation, a bombshell dropped in the form of Palmgren’s resignation, allegedly due to death threats.
It was a shocker. The nation was stunned. It was not only a shock but a dent in Namibia’s reputation as a friendly nation.
Namibian football has a dramatic history off the field.
Many things were said and done but never before had such an allegation been made of someone threatening someone’s life because of a coaching job, or whatever the real reasons were.
This thing has now moved beyond football. The allegation of a death threat has serious implications for the manner in which others will perceive the country.
Namibia risks being a state which is shunned by professionals and visitors and mind you we pride ourselves for drawing huge tourists numbers and hiring skills that we ordinarily do not possess in this country.
In the build up to the match against Nigeria, talk emerged in the international media of the Super Eagles requesting more security for players and staff as a result of the Palmgren allegation.
The Nigerians wanted to have their safety guaranteed and word had even spread all over the world that the Sam Nujoma stadium was unsafe for such a big match because it was located in Katutura which. This all stemmed from the allegations by the Swede coach.
Whether he was right or wrong, the Namibian Football Association, and perhaps the Intelligence community has a duty to institute investigations into the allegation and get to the bottom of this. One way or the other, the allegation has to be tested. If anyone is found to have made threats on the life of Palmgren, he or she must be exposed and brought to book. He or she must be made to apologize for putting the name of such a friendly, peace loving nation in disrepute.
If, on the other hand, Palmgren’s allegations are found to have no basis, the NFA will be duty bound to report the matter to world governing body FIFA and the Swedish coach should be made to account for his actions. If he was right, we should apologise to him and in a similar vein we should go the full lengths to get him sanctioned by FIFA if his allegations were a conduit for him to slip out of a two-year contract and land himself a lucrative job somewhere else.
The NFA cannot certainly not make this a small, ordinary matter and hope that it will blow away as fast as it started. Whoever is wrong should be held to account. Namibia deserves better than being labeled as a nation of people who threaten foreign professionals for a coaching job, which it emerged, a Namibian may after all be capable of also doing a good job, if given the training, exposure and support by all concerned.