Mooted Super League stokes power struggles in SA football

There has been a deafening silence since it was revealed that the PSL board of governors was not endorsing Mamelodi Sundowns’ participation in the newly-established African Football League (AFL).

Previously mooted as the Caf Super League, the continent’s newest inter-club competition is going ahead and will feature eight clubs from top-ranked leagues on the continent, in its maiden season.

The winners are guaranteed a sugar-coated $4-million (R75-million), which is five times what DStv Premiership winners pocket after 30 games and 10 months of a bruising and exhausting fixture schedule. PSL league winners get R15-million for finishing number one.

After the AFL fixtures were released and sent to the PSL to rework its match schedule to accommodate Sundowns’ participation, it not only set the league and the South African Football Association on yet another collision course, but it is also likely to pit the league’s fearsome chairman Irvin Khoza against Caf president Patrice Motsepe.

Safa and the PSL have been at each other’s throats like warring siblings. It’s just not normal for Safa not to bother the league or vice versa, with the PSL always doing a shibobo at the cashless mother association. Mostly, Safa has had to go cap in hand to the league for the release of players and fixture rescheduling.

What is more confusing and muddying the waters is that the AFL is Motsepe’s brainchild. The Motsepe family owns Sundowns, the most successful club in the PSL. The “Brazilians”, as Sundowns are dotingly known, were drawn against Pedro Atletico in this new competition. The same Motsepes bailed out a desperate PSL just before the start of last season.

We were gathered in Sandton when Motsepe rescued the PSL from the clutches of disaster after the national first division sponsors GladAfrica pulled out at the last minute due to the unavailability of funds. The first division almost started without a title sponsor.

Motsepe and a relieved Khoza unveiled the Motsepe Foundation Championship as the new title sponsors and naming rights holders of the second tier football in the country.

So, now, the very same Sundowns were sent packing out of last week’s board of governors meeting and made aware that the league will not accommodate their fixture reshuffle request.

It was reported that their representative Yogesh Singh was asked to excuse himself from the seating as it was about his club, Sundowns. We could be in for very interesting times in football power struggles.

Safa, in its meek attempt, tried to force PSL’s hand with a rather veiled statement that sought to make the league bosses look like villains.

“The CAF ordinary general assembly, which took place in Tanzania last year, took a decision establishing and launching the African Football League.

“The latest assembly, which took place in July 2023 in Ivory Coast, took a decision that all African football federations, professional leagues and football clubs must participate in all CAF Competitions to make football in Africa globally competitive and self-supporting.

“This decision was partly in response to the non-participation, over the years, by certain National Teams in the African Nations Championships Competition.

“Safa fully supports the decisions that were taken by the CAF ordinary general assemblies in Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire and furthermore supports the participation by the South African national team and football clubs in all CAF competitions,” reads the statement.

I am certain that PSL club bosses laughed at this statement.

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