Mbalula’s quotas threat

2014-04-08 00:00

THE government is threatening to withdraw national teams from international competition if they don’t comply with increased quotas.

At the same time, sports bodies face suspension by their parent groups if enforcement of transformation rules is seen as government interference.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula caused consternation in sporting circles at the weekend with an indication that national teams would soon be obliged to include 60% black players.

His announcement followed the release last week of a report assessing the transformation progress of rugby, cricket, netball, athletics and football.

The Springboks were singled out as among the biggest offenders, as the team have only attained 45% of declared transformation goals.

The report said that is in rugby’s “long-term strategic interests” that the causes of the slow pace of transformation be identified and “aggressively tackled” with focused interventions.

The Times reported yesterday that Mbalula wants to see a new target put in place after the elections next month.

He said on radio station 702 yesterday that sports unions would get until next year to get their transformation targets in order, or the government would consider ending their international participation.

Mbalula’s spokesperson said the minister would not be available to discuss the issue with Beeld before today.

Both the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) constitutions make it possible for member unions to be suspended if it is determined that they are subject to government interference.

However, it is unclear how the ICC and IRB would react if the Proteas and Springboks were forced to comply with further transformation rules.

“The IRB has no comment at this stage,” spokesperson James Fitzgerald said yesterday. The ICC did not respond to questions from Beeld.

Meanwhile, it appears that Mbalula’s announcement caught local sports bodies unawares.

“We have not yet been formally informed of this and will only be in a position to comment when our president and CEO have had a chance to discuss it with the minister,” said Cricket SA spokesperson Altaaf Kazi.

“We are looking forward to meeting with the minister to get more details …” said SA Rugby Union CEO Jurie Els.

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