Pressing Issues: Expect fireworks at Safa’s AGM

2014-10-10 18:45

Every four years, the SA Football Association (Safa) elective congress provides fireworks.

The annual general meetings (AGMs) in between are usually calm and never draw much attention.

But tomorrow’s one promises to be different.

There are a number of innovations that the country’s football governing body has up its sleeve this time around.

According to sources in the association’s higher echelons, some of these are:

»?An unprecedented awards presentation, with some of the awards going to real bigwigs in the country.

»?The media being allowed to sit in and witness parts of the AGM.

»?The invitation to top politicians and a number of potential sponsors.

At the congress, Safa will highlight a number of its successes and point out that these have been achieved within the first year of the current executive.

These successes will include:

»?A financial turnaround strategy that will see the association report a surplus for the first time in ages.

»?Endorsements from the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, and Parliament.

»?Banyana Banyana, and the men’s Under-20 and Under-17 teams, having qualified for their respective continental Cup finals.

But there are surely going to be fireworks towards the end of the gathering when two contentious issues come up for discussion by the delegates.

The first issue is a constitutional one that calls for a change in the timing of Safa’s elections.

While the four-year term is in line, there is a call from the entire football-playing world – affectionately called “the football family” by world football governing body Fifa’s makhulubaas, Sepp Blatter – to change the timing thereof.

While elections the world over are usually held after World Cups to align with the global soccer business calendar, Safa holds its elections a year before World Cups.

This has had a tendency to destabilise the men’s national team – Bafana Bafana – as new executive bodies tend to get rid of the national coach at this time.

Those who follow the game closely will remember what a conundrum this situation created with the 2009 elections when Molefi Oliphant was begged to stay on as the country was to host the big shindig the following year.

He declined and the AGM was almost thrown into disarray as the two strong men of SA football – Danny Jordaan and Irvin Khoza – vied for the top post.

Eventually, a compromise was reached, with the pair pulling out of the race and thus Kirsten Nematandani found himself walking close to Blatter at every World Cup-related event in 2010.

The suggestion is that the executive elected in 2017 should serve for just more than a year and hold the next elections after the 2018 World Cup in Russia so their term runs until the 2022 event.

Those in favour of this idea fear that should a new order come in at the 2017 elections, Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba’s plans for the 2018 World Cup could be derailed.

They point to the fact that when South Africa last qualified for a World Cup in 2002, there was still stability in Safa, with Oliphant standing unopposed.

The next hot potato to be dealt with by the congress will be the recommendation of the national executive committee that vice-president Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana be expelled.

This recommendation will be tabled for the congress to endorse or reject.

While there seems to be a strong sentiment that the wily old advocate has become more of a liability than an asset to Safa, there are those individuals who see this as an opportunity for themselves to become vice-president.

But there are a few who are prepared to stand firmly in his corner.

No matter which way this matter goes, we will surely not hear the end of it at the congress.

As it is, Nonkonyana has taken Safa to court, which many feel is him once more breaching a constitution he played an instrumental role in drafting.

It does seem like a no-win situation, but it has become such an elephant in the room, it needs to be addressed.

So it will be interesting to see how this matter pans out when it comes to deliberations, or is taken to a vote.

Unfortunately, it seems this will be one of those sessions that will not be open to the media. (If only I could be a fly on the wall.)

No matter what happens, it does seem that this AGM will live to the usual expectations of providing fireworks and prove once more that no Safa meeting is a dull affair.

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