It went largely unreported
last week, but a ‘constitutional congress’ held by the South African Football
Association in Nelspruit, on the fringes of the Bafana match against Nigeria,
made some significantly positive changes.
The best one was the turkeys voting for Christmas, agreeing to cut the size of
the organisation’s national executive committee from 42 to 20.
It is unprecedented that perk-loving officials vote to end their own party and
is a decision that must be applauded, even if the honest truth is that it was
forced upon them by FIFA who had given SAFA a deadline of next year to reduce
the size of its bloated executive, and by extension reduce the waste of money
on unnecessary travel and allowances for these fat cats.
Most leading football countries operate with executives no larger than 10, but
for FIFA 18 is an OK number.
South Africa used to have a small executive but as political greed took
precedence over sporting priorities so the committee was expanded to allow
friends and allies to sup at the trough in exchange for votes.
In order to get Danny Jordaan a vice-presidency before the 2010 World Cup, the
committee ballooned to 42 members!
Since, on several occasions these so-called servants of football fly to
meeting, paid a daily allowance and treated like kings in return for giving of
their time and expertise to the service of football. Sadly few of them ever
contributed a single word in meetings, according to colleagues, never mind a
All the while the travel and entertainment bill at SAFA increased to the
detriment of worthy expenses, like training camps for teams, coaching courses
and the much-stalled move to professionalise referees, which SAFA should have
started a long time ago but balk against because they claim they have no money.
Now a streamlined organisation can cut down on the fringe benefits and put its
money to proper use. Or so we hope.
The weekend meeting also made rules easier for SAFA to conduct its business and
increase its revenue. The Bafana brand used to be arguably the biggest in the
country but its potential has been squandered over the decades, first because
SAFA were slow off the mark to protect the trademark and since because they
have allowed it be devalued with meaningless matches.
More prudence management of the national team’s obligations could again lead to
big crowds for Bafana matches and a sense of anticipation and excitement at
watching the national team in action. Currently few could be bothered.
Mark Gleeson is a world-renowned soccer commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.
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