S'Busiso Mseleku

SAFA must act decisively to save SA football

2016-04-06 08:11
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

I got a bit excited last week and in the process, must admit, also got a bit carried away.

The source of my excitement was news that the South African Football Association (SAFA) National Executive Committee (NEC) was to hold a meeting on Saturday.

I had anticipated this since the initial "emergency meeting" was called - and then cancelled - with no reason following FIFA's lodging of a Victim's Statement for Restitution with the US authorities last month.

The document caused quite a stir due to its wording that for the first time alluded that a $10 million "bribe" was paid by South Africa in their bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

We are still none the wiser as to why that "emergency meeting" ended up not taking place. In the absence of a voice from SAFA, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was left to deal with the matter on behalf of government.

We have been told that the "Diaspora Development Programme" - towards which South Africa contributed $10 million - was a "government project".

In between, Bafana Bafana, the senior men's national soccer team, played two crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Cameroon.

The first leg played  in Limbe, ended in a 2-all draw with a cracker of a goal from Mamelodi Sundowns' Hlompho Kekana.

Then the return match played at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium was a goalless stalemate, leaving Bafana lying third in Group M with three points from four outings.

They have so far lost 3-1 to Mauritania, held to a goalless draw by Gambia at home plus the recent two draws against The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.

Not only is the team sitting dangerously in a position where qualifying for the next AFCON seems near impossible, but national coach Shakes Mashaba has developed a fraught relationship with the media and the nation.

Mashaba totally refuses to take responsibility when the team does badly and seems to be way off the mark with reality.

Actually, the coach is currently so out of step with everybody that he reminds me of that anecdote of an old couple that stood on their verandah watching a platoon of troops march down the street with their son in it, to which the mother quips: "All those men are out of step except our Fred."

It was with these happenings in the back of my mind that I got excited on hearing that the SAFA bigwigs were to gather this past weekend.

I anticipated that they would deal with at least the two issues, that of the $10 million plus the Bafana Bafana/coach.

To say I was disappointed when there was no press conference nor statement at the end of Saturday's meeting, would be an understatement.

An enquiry with the media department was met with "it was just a routine quarterly meeting where Standing committees submit their reports to the NEC."

And then it emerged that CEO Dennis Mumble had informed some sections of the media that a "task team" consisting of two former Bafana Bafana coaches and a pair of former national team skippers had been appointed to assess the coach and advise the association on the way forward.

The last time I checked, SAFA had Standing committees one of which was tasked with dealing with technical matters.

Does this committee not monitor the coach every step of the way and advise the organisation accordingly?

Why appoint a task team when it is obvious to everyone what is happening?

This is a total abdication of responsibility.

SAFA has a clear-cut programme called Vision 2022. If there are any indications that it is not being adhered to, they should immediately take remedial action.

This is what we expect from an organisation tasked with governing a sport as big as football in our country.

SAFA should act on these pressing matter immediately as dilly-dallying will only just increase the damage.

Decisive leadership is imperative!

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    safa  |  s'busiso mseleku  |  soccer

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