/ 28 January 2009

SA cans controversial sport regulations

The South African Sport and Recreation Ministry has confirmed that controversial regulations that would have allowed Minister Makhenkesi Stofile to interfere with national team selections have been withdrawn.

The regulations, sent to sport federations for comment in December, were in draft form and far from finalised, Stofile’s spokesperson Lerato Mogorosi told Sapa.

The regulations had now been withdrawn for further consultation, she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said the proposed regulations would have severe implications for sport in South Africa, as they gave the minister power to interfere with national team selections, in stark contrast with international sports best-practice.

”This could lead to our national sports bodies being expelled from international sport federations due to direct political interference in sport,” DA spokesperson Donald Lee said.

The draft regulations provided, among other things, that foreign coaches had to have previously coached a national team for at least five years to be eligible to coach a South African national team.

National teams would have had to be chosen at least 30 days before any international competition and sent to the minister for approval.

The minister would have had the sole right to award national colours, take them away or refuse them.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel also welcomed the withdrawal of the regulations.

The ”canning of these regulations” was a victory for all sport lovers opposed to political interference in sport, he said.

Kriel also noted that political interference in sport was expressly prohibited by the International Olympic Committee, the soccer body Fifa, as well as all other major international sport federations.

”Especially with the 2010 Soccer World Cup Tournament just round the corner, the implementation of politically driven sport regulations would have cast an international shadow across South African sport,” Kriel said. — Sapa