Editorials

Editorial: Red card for Safa

Editorial

On the eve of the Africa Nations Cup, local football fans are thrilled by the prospect of seeing the continent's finest players at work.

Kirsten Nematandani. (Gallo)

They wiill play in the still gleaming World Cup stadiums. But the excitement is overshadowed by a deepening cynicism about the quality of our football leadership.

Nothing epitomises the crisis in administration more than last week's decision by Safa's national executive committee to reinstate its briefly suspended president, Kirsten Nematandani, along with four top officials implicated in the 2010 match-fixing scandal.

Nematandani has made all the right noises about commitment to identify and take action against staffers who allowed a cartel of Singaporean crooks to supply rotten referees for Bafana friendlies. But his words displace appropriate action. There is already more than enough indisputable evidence of gross incompetence – at the very least – for heads to roll. Nematandani and the other officials would have quit long ago if the principles of corporate or public governance were applied. But those principles clearly don't apply in football – here or anywhere in the world. Fifa has become notorious for dithering and prevaricating about the rampant corruption at all levels of the sport. Safa is a creature of Fifa, which does not tolerate national governments intervening in its member associations. So Nematandani and Co, addicted to the luxuries and dignities of office, can stall and waffle with impunity, secure in the knowledge that a jaded public expects no more from them.

There is every chance this shameful saga will occupy Safa for yet another year. It will divert precious time, money and energy from the urgent task of setting up world-class youth development structures that will improve the standard of our players. And the great divide that splits Safa will make matters worse. For more than a decade, a feud has simmered and flared between the Danny Jordaan camp (which now dominates the top positions) and the Irvin Khoza camp. The Khoza camp sees the scandal as a chance to strike back; the Jordaan camp will dig deep to defend its power. We will witness some exciting biting on the surface, but it's a fundamentally boring story.

What makes the current crisis all the more depressing is that South African football should, by rights, be taking giant leaps forward. The country is blessed with a superb array of stadiums, the richest domestic league in Africa and a large, diverse population. We have the goods – but we need new suits.

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