Khoza defends sponsorship
IRVIN Khoza has defended the "plus-minus R1billion" sponsorship deal of his club Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
At the same time he delivered a sharp rebuke to the deal's critics.
SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt and the club's chief operating officer Jose Ferreira had said the massive cash boost from Vodacom for Pirates and Chiefs would distort the player market.
They suggested that with such a big sponsorship and with mining magnate Patrice Motsepe's millions backing Mamelodi Sundowns, these three clubs would turn the other 13 Premiership sides into also-rans in the league.
But Khoza said their criticism was a "mindless tirade".
"I do not know whether to attribute these utterances to ignorance or mischief making. Whichever is the reason, the effect is the same," said Khoza.
"I have been observing with sadness how Hunt has in the last few years resorted to mindless tirades aimed at everyone other than himself - all in his quest to divert attention from his recent lack of achievement."
Ferreira had said it would be difficult for United to retain good players in the face of such potent buying power from Chiefs and Pirates.
Khoza said Hunt had never made "these outbursts" when he was winning the league title. Hunt won the Premier League three seasons in a row with United before Pirates won it in 2010-11 and again this season.
The Pirates boss asked if the statements by Hunt and Ferreira reflected the opinion of the club's owners, MultiChoice.
But United chairman Khulu Sibiya said the coach and COO were entitled to express their opinions.
"I won't muzzle individuals," said Sibiya.
Hunt said he had not said anything personal about Pirates and Chiefs.
Ferreira said it was not about lambasting Chiefs and Pirates.
"What I said was that it will be increasingly difficult for us to compete with them in the market," said Ferreira.
He said the sponsorship was richly deserved because Chiefs and Pirates were the two biggest soccer institutions in South Africa.
Khoza said he felt the need to respond to the criticism because Vodacom was under pressure to defend its investment in soccer.
Attempts to get comment from Vodacom's marketing head Enzo Scarcello drew a blank at the time of going to press.
SuperSport chief executive Happy Ntshingila and MultiChoice CEO Imtiaz Patel said they did not support the views of Hunt and Ferreira.
Patel told Khoza and Amakhosi's chairman Kaizer Motaung that the sponsorship was "a massive development" deserving of congratulations.