South Africa’s most popular sports are on a warpath with the Department of Sport and Recreation over new legislation that was sent out in December when the leaders of most sporting bodies were on annual leave.
Minister of Sport and Recreation Makhenkesi Stofile and his department are now being accused by sports leaders of wanting to add provisions to the Sports Act so the department has ”unbelievable control” over the major sporting codes in the country.
Two of the biggest sporting codes — rugby and cricket — have asked for an urgent meeting with the department and the issue could even go to court as sporting bodies prepare to defend themselves against the Act, according to the Afrikaans weekly Sondag.
The newspaper reported that the controversial regulations were discussed on Wednesday in the SA Rugby’s presidents council meeting.
SA Rugby has now requested urgent meetings with Cricket South Africa and the South African Football Association (Safa) with a view to stand together to ensure the legislation does not pass.
The controversial regulations handle the issuing of national colours and regulations for overseas players and teams in South Africa.
Several prominent sporting figures say the legislation is ”draconian” and will not be able to be implemented.
According to the legislation, sporting bodies have to pay ”an amount which is determined from time to time by the minister” for any foreign team or player who is recruited or takes part in any sporting competition in the country.
This means that any sporting team that plays a game in South Africa will cost the federation more money which will deposited into an account ”for development” and which will be administered by the Department of Sport and Recreation.
Another clause determines that players of foreign origin who want to play for a national team need to be ”in possession of a South African passport” and cannot just depend on the three-year qualification rule that most sporting bodies employ.
This is in direct opposition to the International Rugby and Cricket Boards’ regulations and will mean that Springboks Tendai ”Beast” Mtawarira, Brian Mujati and Tonderai Chavhanga will not be allowed to represent the national squad again.
It will also mean that the hopes of Titan’s Pakistani-born spinner Imran Tahir will be dashed if he wants to represent the Proteas.
If the law was passed, it would also make it impossible for Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana to coach the team. The clause reads that any foreign coach needs to ”have coached a national team for at least five years” before he can coach a South African national team.
Transgressing the law in this regard would mean a fine or even a jail term of up to 10 years.
SA Rugby president Oregan Hoskins admits he is worried about the legislation.
”We want a lot more information and we want to engage the minister about the legislation,” he told Sondag.
Cricket South Africa’s chief executive Gerald Majola told Sondag he believes the time to study the legislation is too short, and said the board of Cricket South Africa would first have to discuss the documents before issuing a response.
Safa CEO Raymond Hack was unaware of the legislation. — Sapa