The moment Kenyan international MacDonald Mariga dropped the bombshell that he was not going play against Togo unless he is refunded the money he spent on air tickets, he was not smiling.
Usually, the talented midfielder keeps to himself. He hears no evil and says nothing to the media.
He is a reclusive and hangs out only with his siblings and few pals. Mariga is just the complete opposite of his compatriot, Dennis Oliech, who is outgoing and loves the company of all and sundry.
But thatâs besides the point.
As Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe says in his novel Things Fall Apart, a toad does not jump in broad daylight unless something is after its life. Sure enough, the announcement put Federation of Kenyan Football in panic mode.
Mariga is a good player â he is Champions League medal winner with Inter Milan.
Although his form has somehow slightly dipped, he is still a leading light in Kenyaâs footballing galaxy.
Harambee Stars and the federation needs him probably more than he needs them. It, therefore, behoves the federation to sort out the tickets mess. Mariga bolted out to send a message and protect fellow players against possible exploitation.
After all, beautiful game is no longer only sport but also business.
Although some feel that Mariga should have not gone the whole hog, but I think that is a matter of personal choice. What football stars do with their money is really a matter of preference.
Rumour has it, for instance, that Dennis Oliech bought most of his teammates new Adidas A50 boots as gifts from France. Liberian soccer star, George Weah, on the other hand used to pay allowances and even buy air tickets for the countryâs national team when he was playing for AC Milan.