Legendary, but controversial football administrator Abdul Bhamjee dies

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RIP (File)
RIP (File)
  • Abdul Bhamjee, one of the role players in the founding of the National Soccer League, has died.
  • He was 82.
  • He was charged and convicted of fraud in 1991, a year before the national team made its international debut.

Legendary footballing and public relations game-changer Abdul Bhamjee has died at the age of 82.

Bhamjee, who fell from grace after being charged and convicted of fraud in 1991, played an important role in the establishment of the National Soccer League in 1985.

He died on Monday night. 

Family friend Yusuf Stemela described him as a football visionary who brought crowds to the stadium long before the advent of social media.

“He was a bubbly person, a people’s person and a crowd puller. He was part of a phenomenal footballing era in the 1980s. He pulled in crowds in a time where there was no social media by just going around and spreading the word,” Stemela said.

“He was a stylish icon of a man who leaves behind his children and grand-children. It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t regarded by many as a Premier Soccer League hall of famer. One doesn’t want to touch on the negatives and dynamics of the whole court case.”

Bhamjee’s excellence didn’t just lie with being a public relations guru.

He was credited as one of the brains behind the construction of the FNB Stadium that was initially rudimentary to begin with but morphed into South Africa’s footballing cathedral that currently seats more than 90 000 supporters.

Bhamjee was also the general secretary of the Transvaal Soccer Board and the Southern Transvaal Football Union.

As per Muslim burial rights, Bhamjee will be laid to rest on Tuesday.

In a statement, the PSL, which was established in 1996/97 after 10 seasons of the NSL, offered its condolences to the Bhamjee family.

"The Premier Soccer League is mourning the passing of former Public Relations Officer of the National Soccer League, Mr. Abdulhuck Marhoon Bhamjee.

"The PSL Executive Committee and member clubs are saddened by the loss of Mr Bhamjee. We recognize his role in the formation of the National Soccer League and the building of the brand NSL.

"Our condolences go out to the children (Mohamed, Fazel, Yusuf and Nadira) and the entire Bhamjee family.

"We supplicate that God gives them fortitude at this moment of their extreme grief and pain.

"The PSL will observe a moment of silence ahead of this week’s DStv Premiership and GladAfrica Championship fixtures commencing today until the weekend.

"May his soul repose peacefully."

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