Jordaan and Khoza go head to head in ‘battle before the war’

2009-09-26 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — It has evolved into the most contentious, acrimo­nious and bitter election for a South African Football Association (Safa) president since the organisation was formed — drawing into its web of intrigue, because of its proximity to next year’s World Cup, world soccer’s controlling body Fifa and many of the country’s most influential po­liticians.

But even before the fateful ballots are cast by Safa’s 52 regions and other associate members today, drama and shock were envisaged late yesterday when the organisation’s executive committee were to consider protests that the two prime adversaries, Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan, are not eligible to stand for the highest position in South Africa’s football administration.

Khoza and Jordaan are widely considered the most powerful fi­gures in the South African soccer firmament, occupying pivotal positions on South Africa’s World Cup Local Organising Committee as chairman and CEO respectively — and in the case of Khoza, known fittingly as “The Iron Duke” and numerous other top positions as well.

It is here in that the opposing camps of zealous and jealous supporters are seeking to gain a knockout blow for their preferred candidate even before the first bell rings in the election battle.

The PSL, of which Khoza is the president and a virtual owner of an affiliate, Orlando Pirates, have written to Safa claiming that Jordaan is ineligible to stand for the presidency because of his position with the LOC — technically an offshoot of South African soccer’s controlling body.

It is claimed that the Safa constitution states specifically that no paid official of the organisation is eligible to stand as president — and that this disqualifies Jordaan.

Jordaan’s supporters have fired their own salvo while claiming that Khoza, who is not technically a paid official, should be disqualified from the election by virtue of occupying the position of one of Safa’s vice-presidents because he is the president of the PSL.

Khoza, however, resigned as a Safa vice-president some time ago and although not officially replaced by another PSL official, he seems to hold the more potent weapon in the “battle before the war starts”.

The Jordaan lobby have seemingly recognised this fact and nomina­ted a relative lightweight candidate in Kirstin Nematandani as a stanby candidate for the presidency in case their main man is forced out of contention.

At the root of the battle is the fact that incumbent Safa president Molefi Oliphant is meekly relinquishing his position after 12 years in office and deciding not to stand for re-election at what appears the most inappropriate moment — the World Cup next year.

The timing of this resignation precipitates a thousand questions, foremost of which is: why?


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