The cancer that’s destroying our football

2018-02-11 06:07
S'Busiso Mseleku

Johannesburg - The Good Book tells us that, “where there is no vision, the people perish”.

I think a lack of vision has contributed immensely to the current state of South African football. As we speak, there has been a lot of mudslinging as March 24, the date for the SA Football Association (Safa) elective congress, fast approaches.

However, my observation is that all the dirt thrown around, the accusations and counter-accusations, casting of aspersions and all, have nothing to do with football. The main theme – disguised as “for the love of the game” – is more about personal vendettas. Hence we have hardly heard anything about how to improve our football, except how bad the sitting president is and why he should be removed.

The reason I opened with the stanza about a lack of vision is because we have heard this time and time again. Those who have been following football for a long time, especially the politics thereof, have heard it all. It has been the same movie and, of late, with the same cast. For years now, Safa elections have been mired in dirt. One can bet that every time they are going to be ugly, and it is always about the president’s position.

Your guess is as good as mine what makes every Tom, Dick and Harry, together with their aunts and dogs, think they can make a better Safa president.

As the custodian of football in this country, Safa is responsible for the development of the game. However, I don’t think the national office should be singularly held responsible for this.

Safa has 52 regions. It would be interesting to conduct an audit of how many of those regions and the 330 local football associations (LFAs) have proper development programmes.

How many of them have proper development structures that include teams from, say, Under-8, Under-12, Under-15, Under-17, Under-20, Under-23 (female and male teams) up to senior leagues?

How many regions and LFAs have fully functional offices? Are their financial records up to date? How many have sponsors? I would bet that only a few – if any – would pass such a litmus test.

Save for recently elected Safa Johannesburg president Phil Mogodi, who was in charge of the Soweto LFA and maybe a handful, one has read, heard or seen very little about vibrant, well-established tournaments at the grassroots level of football.

So, for someone to come from such dead provinces, regions and LFAs and expect to run Safa is tantamount to going from pushing a wheelbarrow to being a jet pilot.

A look at the candidates for the Safa presidency shows a list of people who lost in the last elections, a chief from some backwater village in the Eastern Cape who was expelled by the same organisation at a congress, a former Bafana Bafana captain who reached dizzy heights as a player but has hardly achieved anything football-wise off the field – save for some ambassadorial gigs – and a former coach who still holds the incumbent president responsible for his sacking.

If this doesn’t spell BITTERNESS or VENDETTA in your books, nothing will. Our football deserves better. Only on Thursday, did we have a politician/businessman who was once touted as South Africa’s state president and ran for the Fifa presidency, raise his hand as another candidate on the ticket of “Unity”.

Major problem with our football is that people elected into positions usually tend to make football their main – if not only – source of income. Through their positions in the national body, they can enjoy flying to meetings and staying in top hotels, a luxury some of them might not afford outside football.

Hence some fight tooth and nail to hang on to their positions, even when they have nothing to contribute.

That’s the cancer eating at our football.

Such positions are a vocation. Judge Benjamin Pickard suggested that soccer should be led by somebody who has made their money and is not in it for financial gain. Is there such a man? That’s food for thought.

Follow me on Twitter @Sbu_Mseleku

Read more on:    safa  |  soccer


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