Safa hammers Sundowns over young Mabena

The SA Football Association (Safa) is taking the fight to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and clubs in a bid to remind them that it is the custodian of football in the country.

Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe also reminded PSL clubs that they do not have the jurisdiction over players who are still underage such as Siya Mabena of Mamelodi Sundowns.

Mabena, who has just turned 16, was caught in the middle of club versus country when Sundowns wanted to release him late for the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations camp.

The tournament will take place from April 29 to May 19 in Algeria.

“It’s an important week. Members of Safa will come together and discuss the strategy going forward. What is important [is the] legal framework,” said Motlanthe.

“We need to ensure that Safa has a very sound and compliant legal framework in order to avoid the issue of club versus country or national teams.

“As you know, 16-year-olds are not allowed to have contracts because of their age, because of what the regulations are saying, so there is no professional club that can withhold an under-16 or under-17, these are the things we going to deal with.”

Safa technical director Walter Steenbok said: “We cannot afford to have Under-17 players reporting late for camps and being withheld by professional clubs. It does not work well, the players are not at fault.

“You should have seen Mabena when he arrived in camp. He is just a child and he’s been with us all along. We know he comes from Safa Transnet School of Excellence – we knew Mabena before Sundowns.

“What Sundowns were doing was just unthinkable. Mabena was also in our Schools’ tournament in Benoni and also in the Cosafa tournament in February.

“He’s been in our structures for a long time and now we come into a situation where a player does not know what is happening.”

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