Pressing Issues: Which hole did Safa dig LOC from?

2012-09-29 16:52

One of the most clever quotes from the late Moroka Swallows boss, David “Pine” Chabeli was when he asked: “If Mario Tuani is as good as people make him out to be, why were there no clubs queuing at our door to give him a job as soon as we fired him?”

This was after a sustained campaign in the media by one journalist and a sprinkling of soccer fans to have the Chilean brought back to The Birds aviary where he had enjoyed some success.

At the time, Tuani had gone for a long time without a job.

Chabeli’s words were replayed in my mind when I looked at what the SA Football Association (Safa) did when they found themselves faced with the task of putting together the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

The first thing they did was go out and employ people to lead the process who were unemployed at the time.

Now the question is: if these people are so good that they can be entrusted with a project that will reflect the country’s image, why were they unemployed to start with?

The slow pace at which the preparations have been going – despite assurances from local organising committee (LOC) chief executive Mvuzo Mbebe – are cause for great concern.

Then there was this week’s shambles around the ticket-sales launch, which left not only eager soccer fans who wanted to buy tickets dissatisfied; but even board members, including chairperson Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, were left red-faced.

Government has still not said how much they are giving to the project and Mbebe has refused to say how much they asked for.

We are told it is R400 million, but no one confirms anything.

From its late endorsement of the tournament to its appointment of ministers to serve as board members – some of whom are still to attend a meeting – eyebrows about government’s role are raised.

There is a strong belief in some quarters that the Afcon preparations have been caught up in the ANC’s infighting ahead of its elective conference in Mangaung this December.

Every move now – and that would include any government minister’s, particularly the Father Christmas who will deliver the necessary funds, Sports Minister Fikile “Makhulubaas” Mbalula’s – could easily score Mangaung brownie points.

While all this is happening, host cities, including eThekwini, which will host the postponed final draw on October 24, have their hands tied as they wait for direction from national government on how much they can spend on the tournament.

All this with only 111 days to go before kickoff.

And, by the way, it will be interesting to see the looks exchanged over the table between Mbebe and SABC acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the next board meeting after the report that the former, who left under a cloud, is “facing a possible lawsuit over his role in signing Spanish football rights with Nigerian company Entertainment Highway Limited during his tenure as content enterprise executive”.

The Afcon organising committee still has to announce its first sponsorship.

To paraphrase Chabeli again: If those tasked with leading preparations are so good, why were they unemployed when they were pulled out of whatever hole Safa found them in?

»smseleku@citypress.co.za


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