Newsmaker – Danny Jordaan to the rescue again

2013-10-07 12:00

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Jordaan spent his first week as the new Safa boss spelling out how he plans to save SA soccer Danny Jordaan talks tough.

He is considered one of the greatest administrators of football and is one of the most successful chief executives in the history of the SA Football Association (Safa).

He also presided over what the football mother body, Fifa, declared the best ever World Cup, in 2010.

Jordaan was instrumental during Safa’s origins, travelling regularly to Lusaka in Zambia between 1987 and 1989 to “discuss its creation”.

In 1991, he became the association’s acting president when he led discussions with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on South Africa’s readmission to international football.

Last weekend, the 62-year-old was elected Safa president.

He now faces one of the biggest challenges of his career as a football administrator – to turn around the embattled association, which is faced with problems ranging from the underperformance of the senior national team, Bafana Bafana, to financial instability and a dire lack of visible youth development.

But typical of a man who thrives on adversity, Jordaan this week threw down the gauntlet, saying he wants to be remembered as the one who made a meaningful contribution to the game.

He laughs when challenged and asked if he can stop the rot that has seen the national football governing body sink to new lows. “If I were not confident of what I am getting into, I would not have accepted the people’s mandate to lead this troubled ship,” he said.

Speaking a week after his election to one of the nation’s most demanding jobs, Jordaan, who takes over from Kirsten Nematandani, said the problem with football was there was too much talk and too little action.

Though he knows very well that turning things around is a herculean task, Jordaan is determined to implement all of his election promises. These range from increasing the number of junior teams and setting up nine centres of excellence, to fixing Safa’s books and turning it into an internationally respected body.

Also on his list is having a “winning” national team.

“We have already started with the launch of a centre of excellence in KwaZulu-Natal this week. Time for talking is over; we want to see action. We have to roll out these centres to all the provinces,” he said.

The Safa staff who were at the first meeting this week with their new president were in for a wake-up call.

“We have to deal with a number of issues, from national team coaches to financial reports – after we reported a R46?million loss. We need to come up with a turnaround strategy,” he said on Thursday.

“We have to change the financial fortunes of the association and the time is now.”

During the meeting with his staff on Monday, Jordaan railed against mediocrity.

“I was making it clear to them they need to jack up their act so we are on the same path. Those who are efficient will stay and those who aren’t will have to go – as we begin to move forward and implement our policies.”

Although Jordaan is expected to deal decisively with the dissenters who took Safa to court on the eve of last week’s elections for violating Fifa rules, he still expects everyone to work as a team.

He may have a reputation as a tough guy, but he doesn’t want to keep all the power for himself.

He believes that provincial leaders should be empowered to run their affairs.

And although he may be tough at work, he is actually a softie at home in Morningside, Sandton, where he lives with his wife, Roxane, his daughter and a nephew.

Here, he indulges in his favourite dish, chicken curry, and likes to relax in the jacuzzi.

The couple’s older children, Luana and Mikhail, have left home.

Because of his personal motto,“be honest and work hard”, he is never at home for long.

His Safa executive will now have to decide whether he can still chair the development, legacy and infrastructure trusts that arose out of the 2010 World Cup.

And then there is his position as the special adviser to Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou, as well as to the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.

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