Once again, the South African Football Association (SAFA) found themselves at loggerheads with two PSL clubs, Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United, regarding players.
This happened on the eve of the SA Under-20 national team’s (Amajita) departure for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Korea.
Wits felt that they needed Phakamani Mahlambi and Reeve Frosler in the run-in to the Absa Premiership race that seems headed for a photo-finish.
United argued the same for Teboho Mokoena.
Both clubs are correct, they do need these players as they vie for league honours - Wits that is - and in the case of United to finish as high in the league as they possibly can.
However, what irks me, is the fact that this has been known for quite some time now.
The league fixture was issued way before the season kicked off last August. The World Cup draw was also conducted some time back after Amajita had qualified as one of four African representatives after the CAF Under-20 Championships in February.
Even before that tournament, there was a slight tug-of-war between Wits and SAFA which was finally resolved with the player joining the national team later than his other team-mates and returning before the tournament ended once Amajita had made the semi-finals - thus qualifying for the World Cup.
What gets my goat is that PSL clubs and SAFA knew beforehand that there was a tournament called the FIFA Under-20 World scheduled for May-June this year way.
Why were there no proper discussions and plans put in place way before we found ourselves in this tense situation?
What irritates me even more, is that we keep on being told about this glorified structure called the Joint Liaison Committee made up of members of the PSL and those from SAFA.
The purpose of this structure is to ensure smooth operation of matters that involve both organisations such as the coordination of fixtures.
But I can tell you now, this structure has over the years proved to be one of the most useless if not toothless. That is if it still exists as I haven’t heard anything about it lately, not that it was eve hyperactive.
And war talk, such as that from SAFA CEO, the Honourable Mr Demnis Mumble who mumbled something like “all players elected will leave with the team” last week, does not help the situation.
Clubs are businesses. They pay these players huge monthly salaries. Clubs, except a few, are ambitious and want to win titles.
Besides adding to their coffers decent amounts of money, winning titles is also what makes clubs attractive to sensors.
Did I hear somebody say everybody loves a winner?
So the player issue is a serious one that cannot just be arrogantly discussed and then we throw the card of patriotism.
Every sane player dreams of playing for the national team at some point of their career.
But for this to happen smoothly, things must be done in an orderly manner s that there is synergy with all the parties involved.
S'Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning over 30 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.
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