Roster News

Eight weeks of silence – Olivier Mbaizo

Photo Paul Rudderow

Keystone Sports and Entertainment LLC has made no comment about Bethlehem Steel outside back Olivier Mbaizo for exactly eight weeks as of today.

Known facts

The 20-year old Cameroonian outside back signed with Bethlehem on January 22, 2018 and began practicing with the first team unofficially that week. At the Steel’s first official practice at YSC Sports on Tuesday, January 30, head coach Brendan Burke stated that Mbaizo had accepted an invitation from the first team to train in Florida.

Various print and visual media reports of the scrimmages during the Philadelphia Union’s first Florida training phase mentioned his appearances on the pitch, more than once at left back.  He scored a goal or two and had an assist, or thereabouts, usually against lesser opposition.

Mbaizo then returned to Clearwater for the training period described by Jim Curtin as focused on the roster. Tweets of the closed-door scrimmage against Orlando City SC on February 14, 2018 said Mbaizo started the second phase of the event, and then they said he was substituted off, injured.

After that scrimmage the Union head coach held his weekly preseason teleconference and mentioned that Mbaizo had been injured, along with Ilsinho. He indicated the injury was a hard knock to the knee without specifying which one, and that further evaluation was necessary.

Since then, the organization’s  official response to inquiries has been, “No comment.”

An analogy

Recently-passed British physicist Stephen Hawking introduced us to black holes in the cosmos. The black hole concept includes thresholds to gravity wells. The wells are best imagined as downward-sucking whirlpools of increasingly irresistible force from which nothing escapes, not even light itself.

News of the 20-year Cameroonian has disappeared into the gravity well of a black hole.

Raising a concern
  • Sixty-four days have elapsed since anyone in the organization has mentioned the young man publicly.
  • No injury has been confirmed.
  • No diagnosis has been reported.
  • No proposed course of treatment has been described.
  • No one has mentioned whether any treatment has occurred.
  • No one has explained how a young man in this country with little language comprehension has been helped to understand what has happened to him and what will happen in his future.

Mbaizo has not actually disappeared.

  • He is listed on the roster on Bethlehem Steel’s website.
  • He was seen working with a trainer on the sidelines of Union practice more than two weeks ago.

His organization simply refuses to talk about him.

Requesting a response

Keystone Sports and Entertainment is composed of good people.

It presents itself as trying to do the right thing the right way.

  • The public understands the operational necessity for secrecy when engaged in adversarial competition particularly in the short-term.
  • That public demonstrates patience — frequently, abundantly, and repeatedly.
  • And that public understands and respects individual rights to privacy, both legal and moral.

But when Keystone chooses to make someone a public figure by introducing him, Keystone assumes a responsibility to give updates about his basic health and condition.

The right thing to do is to answer these four questions with a simple “yes” or “no,” … now.

1. Is Olivier Mbaizo today physically present in the greater Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley area?
2. Has his injury been treated appropriately and successfully?
3. Has the organization been addressing his language needs respectfully?
4. Without detailing it, does a prognosis exist, and is he progressing towards recovery along its path?

After those four simple words, if circumstance necessitates (as seems obvious from observed organization behavior that it does), state that the organization “can have no further comment at this time.”


  1. Nowak’s involved somehow, right?
    edit: In all seriousness, can someone who actually cares tell me why they do? The U’s outside back situation isn’t terribly dire and this kid didn’t make any serious headlines iirc. Is this mostly coming form a BSFC perspective? Does BSFC need an outside back? Sorry for the ignorance, just curious. Pro athletes disappear pretty regularly in this country and abroad – just seems like part of the job.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      because we need good journalistic instinct to flesh stories… and there is precedent with Maurice Edu.

      • Of course you’re right as usual, Pachy, but I was after the sort of answer Mr. Jones provided.

    • Why you should care is a fair question, The Truth.
      There is a real squeeze currently on the depth chart of the two combined teams because of injury that is focused intensely among the defenders.
      There are four trained center backs only among the two teams, three trained right backs not counting Ayuk whose training is in process, and there are only two healthy left backs.
      There was no proper defender on Bethlehem’s bench Sunday. The guessing was that one of two central midfielders would have been thrown into any emergency.
      The other reason Mbaizo matters is that he looked good enough to be a first teamer back in January and February before he got hurt.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    Any time…and I mean any time, an event horizon is bent into words to create an image is a good time…
    and I use ‘time’ around the edge of said horizon, loosely.

  3. I made an error of mistaken identity in the original version of the post and have edited out my error. 12:11 PM Weds. 4/11/18

  4. Keystone Sports is a privately held company. They don’t have to disclose injuries or information on players. Also, did anyone stop to think that they are protecting the player in this instance? After all, the kid is not from America, and English isn’t his native language. As I understand it, he doesn’t really speak English.
    Assuming that the organization is evil, or hiding something is a negative take. Maybe the player’s agent and/or the player himself requested that information be kept private?

    • Legally they do not have to disclose.
      When they make someone a public figure, the ethical as opposed to the legal begins to come into play.
      I overtly denied that the organization is evil, for the record. That inference is one you have drawn.
      And other readers of this blog have been asking questions of his whereabouts.

    • Your final point seems entirely reasonable. By following a sporting club one certainly isn’t entitled to every detail of players’ lives.

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