Pressing Issues: Inside the hurt locker room

Many South Africans are still seething at the way Orlando Pirates, and the media contingent who accompanied them, were treated in Lubumbashi during a CAF Champions League second leg match against TP Mazembe two weeks ago.

Some have even gone to the extent of calling for revenge when Mazembe or any other team from the continent visits these shores.

Well, if you thought intimidating tactics were barbaric and that they were confined to the dark continent of Africa, think again.

Startling revelations made by Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge tour guide during our visit to the hallowed venue this week will leave you gobsmacked.

When he showed us the visitors’ change room, he told us that it was “significantly” smaller than Chelsea’s.

The air conditioner is turned high on hot summer days and low on freezing winter days.

“We make it a little bit inconvenient for visiting teams,” he said.

The Chelsea locker room has six massage beds, full-size lockers and the tactical board is in a separate room next door.

Even 12-year-old Goitsemang Lengene from Pretoria could see the discrepancy when we entered Chelsea’s change room. “This is unfair . . . this one is BIG!” he said.

We were told about Chelsea’s treatment when it visits other Barclays Premiership clubs or travels out of England to play in European competitions.

Middlesborough make their change room very slippery and Chelsea takes mats when travelling there.

Some clubs turn off the hot water so that the visiting players only have cold water to shower in.

Napoli used to be the most intimidating place in Europe, as supporters were very noisy and rude.

But the guide said there had never been any physical violence, just intimidating tactics.

The tour of Stamford Bridge revealed that The Blues are a club steeped in tradition with a very rich vein of history dating back to 1905.

They have always used the same venue, which at the turn of the last century had a racetrack around the pitch, where dog racing was held every Tuesday evening.



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