Minister calls indaba to sort out issues bedevilling soccer

Ramatsiyi Moholoa and Mcelwa Nchabeleng

South Africa needs an urgent soccer indaba to plug rifts and go into the 2010 World Cup a united nation, Makhenkesi Stofile, the minister of sports and recreation, said yesterday.

The indaba, which Stofile said will be attended by various stakeholders, from administrators, referees, coaches to past and present players, is scheduled for May.

The minister said the negative media publicity was harming South Africa's image internationally, considering that the news were circulated globally.

"It is in the light of continuous negative media publicity that our football is getting that we are calling for an indaba.

"I'm upset about the negative reports. This comes in the same year that the African Union has declared 2007 as Year of International Football," he said.

"We need to have a common understanding at the end of the indaba. We don't want to get to the 2010 World Cup with a divided South Africa."

Regarding calls for a commission of inquiry into the Safa and PSL affairs, Stofile said: "There are two routes to follow on that one.

"If MPs or a committee feels there is a need for one, they approach the speaker of parliament to request the president of the country to appoint a commission. Secondly, they can approach a minister to ask him or her to request the president of the country to appoint a commission."

Asked to comment on calls by Butana Komphela, chairman of the portfolio committee on sports, for the resignation of PSL chairman Irvin Khoza and Safa president Molefi Oliphant, Stofile said: "I have not heard the call.

"But I believe that portfolio committee on sports chairman was on radio on Thursday talking about it. People who elected Irvin and Molefi can make such a call at an AGM.

"The clubs and regions are the ones who voted them in both at Safa and PSL, so the call for them to resign has no legality unless we convince people who elected them.

"It is like my saying the editor of Sowetan must go, he will not necessarily be fired because I did not employ him."

Safa president Oliphant earlier told Sowetan: "I tried phoning Mr Komphela without any joy to check what is really going on. There is no wrongdoing at Safa that warrants a judicial commission of inquiry.

"We are transparent, we are accountable to the general membership of Safa. Our books are audited annually before a respectable international firm."

Komphela said: "We are not hellbent on destroying soccer. To a larger extent, Oliphant has nothing to do with the matter, but he is the head of soccer in the country.

"I'm prepared to talk to him, he is my homeboy."

The 2010 LOC chief executive Danny Jordaan said the Fifa executive meeting in Zurich on Thursday and Friday has nothing to do with issues affecting Safa and the PSL.

"Yes, there is a debate today in South Africa about Safa and the PSL, but Fifa is not concerned about this matter in terms of us hosting the World Cup," Jordaan said.

"Fifa will only come into the picture if the national controlling body informs them that it can't handle the matter."

Jordaan will be accompanied to Zurich by LOC chairman Khoza.