Pressing Issues: We need a united football family in this country

2013-09-03 10:00

It was about this time in 2009 that City Press led with a story that opined that Kirsten Nematandani might emerge as the new SA Football Association (Safa) president at the elections.

This was on Sunday 20 September 2009 to be exact, a week before Safa held its polls.

The article led to guffaws and private giggles as everyone was tipping either Irvin Khoza – The Iron Duke of South African football – or Danny Jordaan to emerge as the Crown Prince.

But the article was thanks to many years of following the politics of the local game as well as advice received from a sports editor quite early on in my career. His nugget of wisdom was that, in football, there is never smoke without fire.

Another crucial lesson learnt over the years is that, in football, just as in politics (which Julius Malema and his friends from Limpopo call polotricks), things are not always what they seem to be.

With this in mind, one must regard the figures that appeared this week about the nominations for the Safa president’s position with a spoonful of salt, not a pinch.

Even Khoza declining to be nominated can’t be taken at face value.

The twists and turns that have got us here are proof that there will never be a smooth Safa election.

The passion with which people follow football and aspire to its highest office has led to some very serious stuff happening, not only in this country but globally.

Who can forget that afternoon in 1985 after the big soccer split, when two Orlando Pirates sides emerged from the Ellis Park tunnel for a league encounter against Jomo Cosmos?

The ugly pictures of China “Dibaba” Hlongwane – may his soul rest in peace – being gored like a wild bull by his knife-wielding assailants were beamed live on national television.

In the same year, Moroka Swallows defender Aaron “Roadblock” Makhathini, a rising star, was gunned down and died outside his Soweto home on his way back from training.

Such violence has not been seen in many years in our football.

But there have been some dirty tactics such as the “dossier” that was circulated some months ago besmirching people’s names.

Against this background, an appeal for unity and peace in football is overdue.

It’s a pity the picture emerging now seems to be pointing to a scenario similar to that in 2009 where there were absolute winners and total losers.

It seems it’s going to be winner takes all again for whoever emerges victorious on September 28.

This should not be allowed to happen if those in charge of our football want to prove true Fifa president Sepp Blatter’s theory of the “football family”.

Will we ever have a united football family? Does it even exist?

Answers will only emerge after September 28.

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