Arbitration hearing set to decide new Safa boss’ legitimacy

2009-10-20 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — The lingering, potentially explosive issue surrounding the legitimacy of Kirsten Nematandani as the new president of Safa — and of other officials elected at the recent annual general meeting — is set to be decided at an arbitration hearing.

The demand for an arbitration hearing was confirmed yesterday by Ali Mokoena, an executive member of Safa’s Johannesburg region and the elected spokesman of “between 30 and 20 of the national soccer bodies’ 52 regional structures.” Prior to what amounted to “a regional revolt”, the split in South African soccer administration less than eight months before the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, had emerged when the powerful Professional Soccer League (PSL), also an affiliate of Safa, opened the Pandora’s Box recently by declaring the recent elections “illegitimate”. And seen as the crux of the matter is the bitter confrontation between groups supporting South African soccer heavyweights Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan, who had both initially sought the presidency of Safa in succession to the outgoing Molefi Oliphant.

“We cannot recognise the elections,” said Mokoena, “because they were held on an unconstitutional basis — and we have already informed Safa CEO Raymond Hack of our constitutional rights to demand the issue be decided at an independent arbitration hearing.”

Mokoena said the elections had taken place at the annual meeting on September 26 in spite of the electoral officer, Judge Ralph Zulman — constitutionally the sole adjudicator in this matter — ruling that the elections be postponed pending a final decision on the legitimacy of Khoza and Jordaan as candidates to succeed Oliphant.

“In spite of the electoral officer’s ruling,” added Mokoena, “Oliphant, who had no jurisdiction in the matter, took the issue into his own hands and pronounced the elections should continue.

“But,” continued Mokoena, “What then took place was nothing more than a sham, with Khoza and about half of the regional representatives walking out and boycotting the proceedings.”

However, a statement issued by Safa yesterday declared the new leadership was “forging ahead with its mandate to develop football in the country, and to ensure that South Africa delivers a successful World Cup in 2010.”

And while making no comment on the request for an arbitration hearing, Nematandani said it was irresponsible to sow confusion about the electoral process “instead of focussing on the World Cup and rallying support for Bafana Bafana.”

Nematandani pointed to the fact that Fifa president Sepp Blatter had congratulated him on his election and endorsed the new administration at a meeting in Zurich.

“We respect Fifa,” replied Mokoena, “but their response has only been in line with the information given them by the new administration. We are sure Fifa would not support an illegitimate election …” — Sapa.

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