There are leadership issues at Safa – Zizi Kodwa

The Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa and his deputy Nocawe Mafu were scathing of Safa’s failed efforts to bid to host the 2027 Fifa Women’s World Cup.

Kodwa said there are issues of leadership at Safa. He added he was not prepared to go to cabinet to embarrass himself, asking the government for money for the bid. Mafu explained that they do not have a “sweetheart relationship” with the football mother body.

Safa launched their bid to host the World Cup without government guarantees and it all collapsed like a pack of cards last week when the national association sent out a statement that they are withdrawing from proceeding with their bid.

The remaining countries in the bidding process are a joint bid from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, one from Brazil and another joint bid by Mexico and the United States. The Fifa congress will decide the hosts on May 17 next year.

“The South African government was clear in November 2022 when supporting Safa’s interest in expressing interest in hosting 2027 Women’s World Cup, but that letter cannot be considered as underwriting, guarantee or commercial commitment,” explained Kodwa.

“Some federation needs a thorough monitoring and if they drop the ball they need to be reminded. When I meet Safa, I do not meet friends, I meet people who are expected to work, and I engage them on the basis of their work. As a minister accountable for sport, I must go to cabinet, cabinet is tough when it comes to money. The president [of SA Cyril Ramaphosa] is tough. He asks difficult questions like where is the money going to come from. If I do not have answers, I cannot go to cabinet and embarrass myself,” Kodwa explained further.

Relationship with Safa healthy

“So, we respect Safa’s decision to withdraw and to work towards a better prepared bid for 2031 Women’s World Cup. We do not bid as government. There so many things that are needed during hosting, like visas, safety and other issues. It needs to be done via government to government, not just the federations.

“Federations know that they must be prepared before they submit a bid. You cannot just  submit a bid and then come to government and say give us money. There are issues of leadership there at Safa, but leave those issues there. All we are saying is that we support their decision to withdraw. Passion has been missing from a lot federations, and if they do not do their job, they should know what is expected,” Kodwa added.

Said Mafu: Our relationship with Safa is healthy and a good one. It is not a sweetheart relationship so to speak, it is a professional relationship because we want to see progress. Off course we will ask questions because we want to see progress.

“In that process, people look at it as if the relationship is unhealthy and that is unfortunate. We have an obligation as the Ministry to go back and report to cabinet and the government. [We must] tell them about progress around certain issues.” 

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