Pressing Issues: Brinkmanship not good for SA football

2014-01-07 10:00

In the 1980s, veteran journalist Sekola Sello used to describe the relationship between the SA National Football Association (Sanfa) and the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) as “the tail wagging the dog”.

You see, Sanfa was the football governing body then and the NPSL was the professional wing affiliated to it.

This was on paper, but the real relationship was that the NPSL dictated its terms to Sanfa as the professional wing was the money-spinner.

Fast forward to the present day and it’s evident the more things change, the more they remain the same.

This just by observing the relationship between what’s now the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and its governing body, the SA Football Association (Safa).

With the African Nations Championship kicking off on Saturday, some PSL clubs, in particular Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits, almost threw the spanner in the works.

In fact, PSL clubs do not miss any opportunity to show Safa exactly who is boss.

After an agreement that Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns would release their players to Bafana coach Gordon Igesund for the training camp that started on Thursday, the mighty Amakhosi did what in isiZulu is called “ukushaya ungqimphothwe (a somersault)”.

They issued a statement via Twitter that they will only

release their five players – Bernard Parker, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Itumeleng Khune, Tefu Mashamaite and Tsepo Masilela – on January 23 after their league match against Sundowns.

This flew against an agreement reached in a meeting with Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung and Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe.

This proposed arrangement meant that Chiefs players were only going to join Bafana at the quarterfinal stage of the tournament, if the team made it through the first round.

Bafana are fixtured against Mozambique in the opening match on Saturday, then against Mali four days later and then against Nigeria in their final Group A match on January 19.

How do you think other players would have felt if they were dropped from the team to make way for the Chiefs bunch at this stage of the tournament?

Not too good, I’d imagine.

This would also not have augured well for Bafana’s team spirit as it would have created a situation similar to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where some animals (players in this case) are more equal than others.

Thank God sanity finally prevailed, with Wits and Chiefs agreeing to release their players after lengthy meetings between the two clubs’ bosses and Safa president Danny Jordaan.

There was no need at all for these clubs to grandstand in such a manner in a bid to prove who is boss.

Let football be the winner!

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