An act of treason against SA soccer – and World Cup

2010-03-31 10:36

ANYONE jeopardising South Africa’s successful hosting of soccer’s

World Cup by pursuing their own self-interests was guilty of an act of treason

against South Africa – and the World Cup itself.

This uncompromising view was expressed yesterday by South African

Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani and South African soccer

strongman Irvin “The Iron Duke” Khoza at separate press briefings when an uneasy

truce between the two rival groups within the administration of South African

soccer was seemingly restored.

It followed in the wake of an inflammatory report in two Sunday

newspapers – one of which was City Press – this week that Khoza, the chairperson

of South Africa’s World Cup Organising Committee, was plotting a coup to take

control of the national soccer association.

The leadership of the rival factions had earlier given an

unequivocal undertaking to both President Jacob Zuma and Fifa president Sepp

Blatter that they would do nothing to detract from the successful organising of

the World Cup – and would bury their differences until soccer’s pinnacle event

was over.

“The co-ordinated Sunday newspapers assertion in the Sunday Times

and City Press quoting non-existent meetings to plot a non-existent coup is not

only false,” said Khoza, “but malicious and peddled by those who clearly do not

care about putting the welfare of the World Cup first.”

Nematatandani agreed that the article “which came out of the blue”

was damaging to the coming World Cup and if factually flawed was “an act of

treason against the country.”

The seeds of what was an “open secret”, if diplomatically denied

differences, were seemingly planted years back from what has been viewed as a

battle of power between soccer heavyweights Khoza, who is also the chairperson

of the powerful Premier League and Orlando Pirates, and Danny Jordaan, the World

Cup’s high-profiled Local Organising Committee chief executive.

And the simmering flames of the rivalry burst into what was a

veritable roaring fire last year as both Khoza and Jordaan were nominated to

succeed Molefi Oliphant as the Safa president. The impasse ended when Jordaan

withdrew from the presidential race as a tactical manoeuvre and a surrogate

second-choice in Nematandani was ultimately elected

And then the two virtually identical newspaper reports appeared on

Sunday, with the burning issue: who orchestrated and masterminded them?

The Khoza group clearly believe they emerged from a source within

Safa, if not the the controlling body in a uniformed strategy – and was designed

to discredit the LOC and Premier League chairperson.

Nematandani says he cannot believe that anyone within his

administration would stoop to this level and flout the interests of the country

– and the World Cup in the process. But the Safa president affirmed that if this

was shown to be the case “he or she would immediately be thrown out of the


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