Rising star a sore loser – The Sunday News

Date: April 14, 2011
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The story is about a Quelaton Football team player, Proud Zereni, who is accused of terrorising his ex-girlfriend and her family following her decision to end their relationship. Zereni is now a law unto himself as he goes about destroying his ex-girlfriend’s family property and that of neighbours without being arrested by the police.


The author’s attempt to be creative in highlighting the violence by the use of the soccer metaphor was a grave error in judgment. The article deals with gender-based violence in a paradoxical manner À“ highlighting the game and the abuse simultaneously. The soccer metaphor dilutes the brutality of gender based violence.

The soccer metaphor is apparent and continues in the content. The author equates the girl’s ending of the affair to issuing a red card to the player. Thus making her decision look questionable and unfair, as is the case with some red cards in a football match, which may even attract some nasty reaction from the recipient. In a way the story justifies the reaction of the player since it’s a “gameÀ. The soccer metaphor is derogatory À“ it does not only condone the player’s behaviour but forwards a perception that the act is between two consenting individuals playing a game. Abuse is not a sport.


The headline “Rising star a sore loserÀ downplays the gravity of the footballer’s criminal conduct. Instead of focusing on the violence, it equates the abuse to a game where the abuser is the “loser.À The headline plays on the fact that he is a sportsman and proposes that he should take defeat gracefully À“ again, this diminishes the gravity of abuse. The headline is inappropriate.


The article duly accords space to the abused women and her family and their narration of their ordeal allows one to grasp the psyche of the stalker. However there are many holes in the story. For instance, while the police confirm the player’s violent conduct, the author does not question or investigate the inaction of the police in dealing with the matter. This could have put to test the effectiveness of law enforcement agents in dealing with cases of domestic violence.

The author missed an opportunity in highlighting the cases of women suffering in silence as a result of threats by their celebrity abusers. This is relevant in this article as the football player tells his “victimsÀ that he is “untouchableÀ, well connected to top football teams who could easily wade off his arrest.

The girlfriend’s mother claims that the footballer accused her of being HIV positive and of teaching her daughter “the art of whoring.À The author failed to pick up and address the stigma attached to women living with HIV, particularly the belief that “women with loose moralsÀ are vulnerable. The author does not seek comment from advocacy groups.


The tone, pitch, content is generally balanced and highlights the nature of the abuse, stalking, harassment etc, but it neglects to unpack gender based violence holistically. Use of the soccer metaphor dilutes the seriousness of the issue as it equates it to a game of soccer.

Visual images

The story makes use of two images of the girlfriend and her mother. There are no images of the player or damaged property. Use of the images of the complainants does not only make the story completely gender blind but also stereotypes the two victims especially when the writer alleges that the player called them whores À“ women of loose morals. Use of their pictures alone paints them as losers in this “soccer metaphorÀ and inflicts more paint.

Story angle and perspective

The story is told in a metaphorical way from the perspective of the mother of the girlfriend. The story is biased as it does not give the player the chance to tell the side of his story or the girlfriend who is at the centre of the fight. The writer does not make follow up questions on issues raised. This makes it weak as it leaves a lot of loose ends hence making it gender blind.

Placement or positioning

The story is at the top of Page 2 of the pullout Sunday News Magazine. This section carries various genres. This makes it one of the most prominent stories with a big headline “Rising star a sore loserÀ cast in bold letters.

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