If the resistance from Safa is anything to go by, the national football indaba proposed by Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa is hanging in the balance.
South Africa’s football controlling body has made it clear that it is not ready to participate in a symposium that would “effectively be controlled by and owned by a third party”.
At its national executive committee extraordinary meeting on Thursday, Safa resolved that none of its members would take part in the proposed indaba unless the association was the driver of the process.
The Safa hierarchy further contested that allowing the sports department to drive the indaba would be in violation of Fifa statutes, which prohibit the interference of government in football matters.
During his budget speech in Parliament four months ago, Mthethwa announced his plan to convene the indaba in an attempt to address persistent problems plaguing South Africa’s national teams.
However, Safa did not take kindly to the minister’s statements, and the federation also disapproved of the format of the proposed indaba.
Safa argued that its Vision 2022 blueprint was aligned to Fifa’s football development and the association needed no further aid from structures outside the controlling body.
“From the documentation we’ve seen on the structure of the indaba, some elements did not make sense,” said Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul.
“Given the fact that the minister is new and has an expanded department, we thought he might not have had the opportunity to get around to the federation.
“So we secured a meeting with the minister last Wednesday and presented our report card in the form of a 120-page presentation on Vision 2022.
“There are many loose comments floating around the corridors and in the media that South African teams are not doing well and are going through a bad patch.”
Safa president Danny Jordaan added: “We have an eight-year plan and we’re in the second phase of it. We need to appraise the minister on what the achievements are.”
During his budget speech in July, Mthethwa said: “Football as the number one loved sport in the country needs to be assisted.”
He was out of the country, attending the Rugby World Cup final in Japan yesterday, and efforts to reach his office for comment were unsuccessful.
However, Safa indicated that they would engage the minister to further unpack the document regarding the details of the indaba.
“We’re waiting for the minister to come back to us before any indaba is held so that he has a full appreciation of the state of South African football,” said Paul, adding that the proposed dates of November 15 to 17 were unsuitable.
He pointed out that Safa’s focus would be on giving support to Bafana Bafana, who will face Ghana and Sudan in back-to-back 2021 Afcon qualifiers on November 14 and 17, respectively, as well as on the South African Under-23s at the junior Afcon in Egypt.
Meanwhile, Paul is set to leave Safa for a lead role in the project of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Safa could neither confirm nor deny his imminent departure, but said it would reveal more details at a press conference on Tuesday.