By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (October 14th 2022)
Despite still being coach of 1972 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions, (the Republic of ) Congo 66-year-old Paul Put has expressed an interest in the vacant job of Chief Coach of Zambia’s Chipolopolo yesterday.
But Put has not coached in his homeland since the Belgian FA banned him for three years for match-fixing. The former Geel, Lokeren and Lierse manager’s last job in Belgium lasted just over a month in 2006 for third tier club Royal Excelsior Mouscron in 2006 – a time the club was facing financial disaster.
Previously, he had worked for other Belgian clubs, K-Sint Niklase SK Excelsior before a 6-year spell as manager of Tubantia Borgerhout VK. He also worked for KFC Tielen and KSV Ingelmunster. RE Mouscron went out of business in 2009, reforming in 2010 by merging with Royal Racing Club Péruwelz to form Royal Muscron-Péruwelz.
While trainer of SK Lierse in 2004-05, Put was paid by shamed Chinese businessman Ye Zheyun who has vanished to pay his players to lose matches. Put was convicted of corruption in June 2014 and lost an appeal in October 2014. He was fined €11,000 and €50,000 – the amount the court believed Put had profited from his conduct. The appeal resulted in a sentence of 2 years imprisonment, which was suspended.
Five years earlier Put was handed a three year ban by the Belgian FA for two counts of match-fixing while he was trainer of Lierse. Put was finished in Belgian football, but found work abroad beginning in the Gambia in 2007, ending just shy of 4.5 years. The following year he landed the job of coaching Burkina Faso for three years. He led the Stallions to runners-up in the 2013 African Cup of Nations against Nigeria until 2015. He soon found work as coach of Jordan for six months before heading back to Africa again, spending just over a year at USM Alger.
Put secured further appointments with Kenya, leaving quickly to take up the reins with Guinea – that would end very badly.
Put was dismissed with a life ban by Feguifoot’s Ethics Commission and fined €100,000 for breaching their ethics and disciplinary requirements. Both Put and the FA’s then Vice-President Amadou Diaby were fined and dismissed. Put was banned for life over ‘an atmosphere of mistrust.’
This was Put’s second ban over ethics, although it has been overturned by FIFA. Put steered Guinea to the knockout stage in the 2019 AFCON, but that fell short of expectations.
Put was the technical director of current African club champions, Casablanca’s Wydad Athletic Club for three months and later took over at Bangladeshi Saif Sporting Club for just over three months from November 2020 and was coach of Jordan for just over six months between 2015-16. He is currently coach of 1972 AFCON champions, (the Republic of) Congo.
Put appears to be seeking greener pastures again. It was reported yesterday that he has sent his CV to the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ). The Chipolopolo hot-seat is vacant after the resignation of Croatian tactician Aljoša Asanović last September.
Liverpool’s first black footballer and outspoken advocate for African football, Howard Gayle was incredulous.
“Wow,” Gayle said. “I’ve just been reading that a guy called Paul Put has applied to become the next head coach of Zambia’s Chipolopolo.
“He has been convicted of corruption [match-fixing] in Belgium’s courts.
“Africa has long been a cash cow for these foreign coaches, you could contest that they are bringing something to the continent like experience and tactical know-how. But for as long as I’ve been watching and playing football, I’ve never seen an African nation lift the World Cup or even being consistent contenders at the finals, so the European coaching philosophy that has ruled over African football has failed. “Maybe it’s time that we take a look at ourselves and ask is it now time for a change and we develop our own football programmes for the future. If we put the future of African football into the hands of people like Paul Put, then God help us!”