Mthethwa, Safa indaba fall-out

Safa, government must work together to make football indaba a success

Confusion and uncertainty surround the eagerly awaited football indaba mooted by Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa in July, when panic gripped the country after Bafana Bafana lost their opening Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals match to Ivory Coast in Egypt.

Since then, the department has been pushing for the indaba to take place as soon as possible, but it would seem the South African Football Association (Safa), as the custodians of all football-related matters in the country, and the ministry, don’t see eye to eye on a number of
issues, including the date of the indaba and the agenda.

At the crux of the many matters on the indaba agenda would be the performance or lack thereof of all national teams – from Bafana down to the under-17s of both men’s and women’s squads – in accordance with Safa’s Vision 2022, a twophase programme introduced in 2014 that aims to turn national teams around, both on the continental and world stage.

This week Safa held its national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Johannesburg and later invited the media to a briefing on the successes and achievements of national teams but, understandably, the issue of Mthethwa’s department organising the football indaba
was raised by members of the Fourth Estate.

Both Safa president Danny Jordaan and CEO Russell Paul were quizzed about the invitations sent out in relation to the football indaba.

Safa are seemingly in the dark as they referred inquiries regarding the indaba to Mthethwa’s office. It is glaringly obvious that Safa and Mthethwa are not singing from the same song sheet, as should be the case pertaining to the football “bosberaad”.

If they did, Safa would have authoritatively addressed all concerns regarding the nitty- gritties of the indaba.

But as things stand, it seems Safa has serious reservations regarding Mthethwa and his ministry’s interference.

In a statement released after its NEC meeting, Safa said: “According to Fifa statutes, articles 14, 15 and 19, Safa is an independent body and
is obliged to avoid any form of third party, e.g political, interference in football affairs.

“Under the circumstances … until such time as further engagement takes place between Safa and the minister, as undertaken by the minister
at the earlier meeting with the NEC, Safa cannot see its way clear to participate in an indaba that will effectively be controlled and owned by a third party, and therefore further resolved that no Safa members shall participate in the proposed indaba in its current format, as called by the minister.”

Th at said, it is clear that Safa is concerned about the manner in which Mthethwa is meddling in football affairs or even trampling on the Fifa statutes that forbid political interference in football matters.

It would be a sad day for football should Safa and Mthethwa have a fallout instead of working in tandem to develop sport, played and followed by the majority of the population – black people.

Jordaan and Paul, however, did concede to meeting the minister for the first time last Wednesday, where Mthethwa was appraised and given a low down of the achievements and failures of the national teams.

The status quo cannot be allowed to continue. Safa and the ministry must work for the same objective and afford sportsmen and women a chance to realise their sporting dreams. The current stand-off is regrettable.

Soccer Scene: Xolile Mtshazo

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