Foot­ball pol­i­tics make for an in­ter­est­ing game

CityPress - - Sport - S’Bu­siso Mse­leku . sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Sbu_Mse­leku

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma did not pledge his per­sonal sup­port or that of the South African govern­ment be­hind Mr [Issa] Hay­a­tou SPORT AND RE­CRE­ATION MIN­IS­TER FIK­ILE MBALULA

An in­ter­est­ing sce­nario is play­ing it­self out on the African con­ti­nent – as hap­pens ev­ery time elec­tions are around the cor­ner.

The Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball (CAF) will hold its elec­tions for the pres­i­dents and other po­si­tions next month, and South Africa has taken cen­tre stage for the on­go­ing show.

While the un­der­cur­rent has been around for a while, the first ob­vi­ous hint reared its head on Fe­bru­ary 11.

At the con­clu­sion of the newly elected Philip Chiyangwa-led Coun­cil of South­ern Africa Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (Cosafa) com­mit­tee meet­ing in Jo­han­nes­burg, the or­gan­i­sa­tion and the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) is­sued a state­ment ti­tled: Cosafa en­dorse­ment of Ah­mad for CAF pres­i­dency. The state­ment con­tained these res­o­lu­tions:

That they unan­i­mously en­dorse the can­di­da­ture of Mada­gas­car Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (FA) pres­i­dent Ah­mad Ah­mad for CAF pres­i­dent in the elec­tions in Ethiopia.

That Cosafa will only sup­port sit­ting FA pres­i­dents vy­ing for CAF or Fifa elec­tions.

That Cosafa sup­ports the equal representation both within CAF and Fifa po­si­tions, and also sup­ports the dif­fer­ent lan­guage cat­e­gory representation as ar­tic­u­lated in re­cent CAF statutes.

To the un­trained eye, this could pass as a nor­mal state­ment. How­ever, it was preg­nant with un­der­tones. One: It meant that Cosafa would not sup­port in­di­vid­u­als such as – in South Africa’s case – Irvin Khoza, Molefi Oliphant or Tokyo Sexwale should they have any de­signs on the avail­able CAF or Fifa po­si­tions be­cause they are not sit­ting pres­i­dents.

Two: No woman from this re­gion can make it into those po­si­tions as none of the 14 Cosafa mem­bers are headed by a woman.

This also means that women such as Natasha Tsich­las, Nomsa Mahlangu and Mato Mad­lala, who serve on the Safa na­tional ex­ec­u­tive, have zero chance of mak­ing it to CAF or Fifa if Cosafa has its way.

This flies in the face of Fifa statutes, which call for more women to be nom­i­nated into po­si­tions, as well as clause C un­der “mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tion’s rights”, which reads “to nom­i­nate can­di­dates for the Fifa pres­i­dency and the coun­cil”.

You see, it does not limit mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions to nom­i­nat­ing “only sit­ting pres­i­dents”, mean­ing any in­di­vid­ual nom­i­nated by a na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion can eas­ily be­come a Fifa pres­i­dent.

This is such a ter­ri­ble ploy to ring-fence po­si­tions in in­ter­na­tional bod­ies and smacks of dic­ta­tor­ship – a scourge that has be­dev­illed our con­ti­nent for cen­turies.

Fur­ther de­vel­op­ments this week added more spice to the go­ings-on in foot­ball.

On his visit to this coun­try with his CAF ex­ec­u­tive for the Su­per Cup fi­nal, Issa Hay­a­tou made a turn at Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s res­i­dence in Tsh­wane ac­com­pa­nied by Safa pres­i­dent Danny Jor­daan, Sport and Re­cre­ation Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula and min­ing mag­nate Pa­trice Mot­sepe, among oth­ers.

No sooner was the meet and greet over, than a zeal­ous CAF me­dia de­part­ment is­sued a state­ment that Zuma had en­dorsed the sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian’s can­di­da­ture for his quest for an umpteenth term since 1988.

How­ever, this was im­me­di­ately dis­puted by Mbalula, who said: “Abid­ing by the prin­ci­ple of non­in­ter­fer­ence in the af­fairs of foot­ball democ­racy, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma did not pledge his per­sonal sup­port or that of the South African govern­ment be­hind the name of Mr Hay­a­tou.”

And then, on Fifa pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino’s ar­rival in this coun­try, Safa is­sued a state­ment that he was to visit their of­fices with this rider: “Me­dia are wel­come to talk to the Fifa del­e­ga­tion while at Safa House. There will be no other me­dia in­ter­ac­tions dur­ing the Fifa Sum­mit.”

Sur­prise, sur­prise: In­fantino was at the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion as Sexwale’s guest on Wednes­day evening, where he gave a speech and fielded sev­eral me­dia ques­tions.

The Safa pres­i­dent was con­spic­u­ous by his ab­sence at this event, which was at­tended by Khoza, among oth­ers.

As one politi­cian re­port­edly said: “Ze whole sing is poli­tik.”

There is re­ally never a dull mo­ment in foot­ball!

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