Decision to lodge appeal is offside

2011-10-15 14:58

Dear Kirsten, Robin, Danny and Pitso,

I have been a soccer fanatic since my days as a fan. I later played for Bosmont Chelsea in the old Federation Professional League and then became a football journalist.

I had my own publications in the South African Soccer Yearbook and was editor-in- chief of Soccer News.

During the apartheid era I was arrested and thrown into police vans for refusing to apply for a permit when I played football in the townships.

I have borne witness to the growth of South African soccer.

I have shared the growing pains (such as the 4-0 defeats in Zimbabwe and Nigeria, the disappointment of failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2006 and the heartbreak of being in Zurich when Germany was given the nod to host the 2006 World Cup) and have been a part of the joyful occasions – of which there have been so many.

I was in the stadium when Bafana Bafana played in Durban against Cameroon in the very first international.

I was also there when we were crowned African champs and I was in the stadium in Marseille when we played our first World Cup game in 1998.

Since 1996, I have been to every single African Cup of Nations tournament. I watched every single game South Africa played at the World Cup finals and I was there in Zurich when we were awarded the right to host the World Cup.

I have travelled with the team to places like Pointe Noire, Bobo-Dioulasso and Bremen.

Probably the emotion I most felt during my journey with South African soccer was pride in being a South African.

Like in a marriage, my relationship with Bafana Bafana and South African soccer has experienced highs and lows but throughout I have never given up the hope that a high will follow a low.

But this time I am not sure.

After failing to beat Sierra Leone the realisation that Bafana Bafana will not be in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon was terribly disappointing.

But it was nothing like hearing the news that Safa was appealing to Caf to change the qualification criteria. Then my disappointment turned to embarrassment.

Kirsten, Robin, Danny and Pitso, the decision to lodge an appeal is just wrong.

A total of 47 countries entered the competition and 46 of those accepted the rules and regulations.

Fifa makes a lot of noise about fair play and this decision goes against that.

We should simply accept that Niger qualified and we did not. Yes, we might not like the rules but don’t try to change them after the fact.

Possibly we should take a leaf out of the book Egypt played by. They had nothing to lose but they still went out and defeated Niger. Yes, they played with an under-23 side – and that was wrong – but they still obviously tried their best and instead of simply going through the motions, they wanted to win.

Many South Africans fought tirelessly to make South Africa a better and fairer place for all to live. We should now not simply forget all of that.

We should live by example – not the example that is being shown at the moment, which is that we are sore losers.

Let me again be a proud South African!

With fondest regards.
Peter Auf der Heyde

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