Safa’s huge farce

2013-01-06 10:00

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Big about-turn in attitude to Fifa report.

The SA Football Association (Safa) will no longer send two of its vice-presidents, Danny Jordaan and Irvin Khoza, to brief world soccer controlling body Fifa on what the organisation is doing about the match-fixing report.

This came following the nullification of all decisions taken by Safa’s emergency committee last month that saw the organisation’s president, Kirsten Nematandani, and four other senior members suspended.

Safa insisted they were placed on special leave pending an investigation into the match-fixing scandal.

The emergency committee had also placed Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana – who has since stepped down following the national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Thursday – as acting president.

Shortly after he assumed his acting responsibilities, Nonkonyana told City Press last month that Jordaan and Khoza had been delegated to brief Fifa on steps taken since receiving the report on December 14.

He also wrote to a retired judge enquiring if he would be interested in chairing a judicial commission of inquiry, which had been suggested by the emergency committee.

However, a top Safa NEC member told City Press that “there is nothing for them (Jordaan and Khoza) to go and report (to Fifa).”

The watershed, dramatic NEC meeting on Thursday reversed all the decisions made by the emergency committee.

The reversal of the decisions meant the reinstatement of Nematandani and four other staff members, acting CEO Dennis Mumble, head of referees Adeel Carelse, head of national teams Lindile “Ace” Kika and Bafana Bafana team manager Barney Kujane.

“The NEC resolved that I be reinstated with immediate effect,” Nematandani told the media outside Safa House on Friday after a meeting between the Safa NEC and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula.

It has also emerged that some NEC members questioned the validity of the Fifa report seeing that the covering letter states that the document was prepared by two staffers who have since left the organisation.

They claim that this indicates that Fifa does not take ownership of the report. The NEC decided to hand the report over to the Safa legal committee for further examination and to report back after the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), which South Africa is hosting between January 19 and February 10.

Other NEC members felt the suspension was uncalled for and Nonkonyana, who also chairs the 2013 Afcon Local Organising Committee (LOC), should not have accepted the acting appointment.

Nonkonyana had apparently objected to Nematandani assuming the LOC chairmanship, citing a conflict of interest as he is Safa president – a conflict which Nonkonyana himself assumed when he accepted the acting post.

Nonkonyana was also accused of dilly-dallying in calling an NEC meeting to deal with and ratify the emergency committee decisions taken on December 16.

According to the Safa constitution, all decisions taken by the emergency committee – a structure that meets in between NEC meetings to deal with urgent matters – must be ratified by the NEC.

An initial meeting was planned for December 21, but Nonkonyana said the meeting could not happen due to logistical problems, lack of finance and the fact that there was “no accommodation in Durban due to the festive season”.

The meeting was to coincide with Bafana Bafana playing Malawi in Durban in a friendly on December 22.

Since the report was handed to Safa it seems to have caused even more internal divisions.

While the parties emerged with reconciliatory language after the meeting with Mbalula, NEC members’ body language told a story of tension – with some leaving in a huff soon after, while others hung around for longer.

“I am happy to report that, at the end, a spirit of goodwill prevailed,” declared Mbalula.

He, however, stressed that issues such as corruption should not be clouded by political squabbles.

Mbalula and Nematandani, who addressed the media separately, did not completely rule out the formation of a judicial commission of inquiry.

“Safa will have to deal with this issue and then come to us as government to tell us if there was a need for a commission and we will assist them.

All we need in sport is decorum and unity,” Mbalula added. Nematandani said: “The truth will come out. I have nothing to hide.”

A section that says the NEC had reversed the emergency committee’s decision was missing from the statement read by Nematandani to the media and City Press was reliably informed that it had been removed in order to “show a united front”.

The statement reads, in part: “Given the significance of the findings of the Fifa investigators, the investigation process that follows must be procedurally fair and sound to ensure firm outcomes. Therefore, the NEC took a number of critical decisions.”

It continues: “These decisions will ensure that the process moves forward properly and speedily and allows due process in dealing with all parties concerned.”

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