Pressing Issues: For crying out loud, just let our children play

2013-12-03 10:00

The tug-of-war – the only sport where winners move backwards while losers go forward – going on between the SA Football Association (Safa) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) regarding the African Nations Championship can only be to the detriment of the game.

The tournament will be hosted here from January 11 to February 1.

Safa took the hosting as a package by volunteering to host the more lucrative Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) earlier this year.

The continental governing body, CAF, had long ago in its wisdom decided that the country that wins the rights to host Afcon would the following year then automatically stage the African Nations Championship.

This tournament is contested by domestically based players, meaning no country can call up members of their foreign legion.

Now the PSL has said it will be up to each of its 16 clubs to decide whether they release their players as this tournament does not fall on the Fifa calendar.

This has, in turn, left Bafana coach Gordon Igesund, who had planned to have the players in camp by this month, in a quandary.

Players who would love to don their national colours and defend this country’s honour by using their God-given talent are caught between a rock and a hard?place.

This is politicking of the highest order, if you ask me.

It also makes a mockery of the joint liaison committee comprising members from Safa and their special member, the PSL.

It also makes a joke of the united front that was displayed at the press conference held after the first Safa national executive committee meeting following the September?28 election, where we were told that Safa president Danny Jordaan and PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza had been deployed as the mother body’s emissaries to Fifa to argue for the staging of future events.

This was based on their success in putting the country’s interest before everything in bidding for and hosting the most successful World Cup as chairperson and CEO, respectively.

If they are so tight and working for a common cause, they should be able to rise above petty politics and sort out this trivial impasse.

Leadership is about being the bigger man and seeing the bigger picture.

South Africa really needs to start taking tournaments such as the regional Cosafa Challenge and the African Nations Championship seriously if we are to become world-beaters.

We have the ability to actually win and dominate these tournaments, and this could lead to bigger things.

But as long as the PSL continues to want to show up Safa as failures, to prove who is boss and who “owns” the players, there will be no progress in our football.

But is it worth it?

As Jesus Christ put it in the Bible: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not?...”

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