Saul Sacks, who in his role as
chairperson of Arcadia Shepherds, sanctioned the breaking of the apartheid law
of the day when Vincent Julius became the first black to be officially included
in an all-white National Football League team, has died.
Sacks developed pneumonia after an accident in which he
suffered broken ribs and died at the age of 88 after a brief illness.
"He was a credit to South African soccer in an
impeccable record in the game," said top PSL official and former Wits
University president, Professor Ronnie Schloss, who was a contemporary of Sacks
in the NFL.
Known as "Mr Arcadia" for his long tenure at the
helm of the Pretoria soccer club, Sacks piloted the momentous breakthrough in
1976 with the inclusion of Julius that heralded the breakdown of apartheid in
the mainstream of South African soccer.
He was also a party to the NFL delegation headed by chairperson
Michael Rapp that negotiated the amalgamation with George Thabe's National
Professional Soccer League to form a non-racial body two years later.
For long the pride of Pretoria soccer, where Bafana Bafana
legend Mark Fish was groomed as a junior, Arcadia finally relinquished their
position in the NPSL early in the 1980s after the Nationalist Party-controlled
City Council dogmatically placed obstacles in the way of non-racial soccer
being played at the Caledonian Ground.
While the club continued to cater for amateur and junior
teams, the very future of the club is ironically in jeopardy today as the City
Council plans to implement a development programme on the sight of the
centrally-situated Caledonian Ground.
Sacks' progressive approach resulted in the acquisition of
former Glasgow Rangers and Danish international Kai Johannsen becoming a player
and then coach of Arcadia, with stars of the calibre of legendary goalkeeper
Trevor Gething, the three Wegerle brothers, Steve, Geoff and Roy, Stan Lapot,
Roy Matthews, Stan Lapot, Jackie Botten and the burgeoning Fish guiding Arcadia
to a succession of honours in the NFL in the 1960s and 1970s.
Apart from his soccer achievements, Sacks was also an
above-average tennis player and continued playing the game until a couple of
years before his death.