Wits, Supersport refuse to release players for U20 WC


Cape Town - The South African Football Association (SAFA) are seeking to convene an urgent tribunal that will penalize Bidvest Wits and Supersport United who have refused to release their players called to represent South Africa at the FIFA U20 World Cup. 

“We have noted with concern attempts by certain clubs to derail our U20's participation at the 2017 edition of the FIFA World Cup in Korea by refusing to release certain players.

We have received letters from Bidvest Wits FC and Supersport United FC in which they have advised certain players against honouring a national call-up.  We shall convene an urgent tribunal, seek the immediate suspension of the players in question and seek the severest penalty against all clubs that refuse to release players for the national team,” read a statement from SAFA.

SAFA said they have the powers to suspend a club that defies regulations in act of misconduct or improper practises. 

“The Association is empowered, in terms of Article 2.17.18 of the SAFA Statutes, ‘to suspend, fine, terminate the Membership of or otherwise deal with any Member, Local Football Association, Club or individual affiliated to SAFA or any of its Members for infringing the Constitution, regulations, policies, principles or resolutions of SAFA or engaging in acts of misconduct, improper practises, misdemeanour, acts of defiance, or for bringing SAFA into disrepute."

SAFA maintain  that the reasons put forward by the two clubs not to release their players were unsatisfactory. 

“We are quite concerned by Bidvest Wits FC’s self-serving reference to the U20 FIFA World Cup falling outside an international FIFA window and Supersport United FC’s insistence that they need players for their remaining fixtures that include the Nedbank Cup and the CAF Confederations Cup. The FIFA World Cup is the number one priority for any country and the national interest takes precedence over anything else.  The reasons advanced by both Bidvest Wits FC and Supersport United are ill-advised, does not serve the national interest and go against SAFA statutes that clubs are obliged to release the players to the national team,” said the statement. 

SAFA said clubs are obliged to avail players for the national call-up, failing which, has led them to invoke one of statutes relating to the release of players. 

“Since we are constantly faced with the ‘club v country’ phenomenon whereas some clubs use every excuse to withhold players from joining the national team setup, we regret to report, as we hereby do, that the association will be forced to immediately invoke Article 2.17.18 amongst others, of the SAFA statutes in pursuit of the objectives stated in Article 2.17.13 of the same statutes,” said SAFA.

“We submit that Bidvest Wits FC, Supersport United FC and other clubs participating in SAFA’s competitions, leagues and other structures, have an obligation to make their players available for national duty as and when needed. Bidvest Wits FC in particular consistent resistance to the call-ups from the national teams runs contrary to these principles.

In terms of Article 2.17.13 of the SAFA Statutes, SAFA has the authority ‘to select teams for international and representative matches at all levels and to arrange tours and to sanction matches in and regulate the transfer of players to and from the Republic of South Africa in terms of the FIFA Regulations.’

SAFA said they will convene a DC with the concerned clubs at 10:00 on Wednesday, May 10 at SAFA House in a bid to urgently address the matter.

The players in question are:

Bidvest Wits: Sanele Tshabalala (goalkeeper), Reeve Frosler (defender), Sibongakonke Mbatha (midfielder) Phakamani Mahlambi (forward).

Supersport: Mondli Mpoto (goalkeeper), Sipho Mbule, Teboho Mokoena (midfielders).

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