SA missing out on free Fifa project

SOUTH Africa is one of just 10 countries worldwide that has not yet taken advantage of free Fifa money because they have failed to put together a concrete project for world football's governing body to fund.

In the week in which Fifa has announced its investment in their GOAL projects - a campaign designed to build facilities across the world for its member associations - has reached almost R2-billion, it has emerged that South Africa is one of just a handful of countries not to have benefited.

Fifa has paid for 600 projects in 199 member associations - many of them having three or four projects - but Safa is lagging behind. Three years ago it had proposed to Fifa that an upgrading of the School of Excellence in Tembisa could be a GOAL project but it first had to get a lease on the land before the money would be sent from Zurich.

This has been dormant ever since, even though last month Safa president Kirsten Nematandani claimed the long wait for the lease was at an end. It has now emerged that this is not the case - the document is still not signed because there are clauses that Safa is unhappy with.

"It is not 100% finalised although we are getting close," said chief executive officer Robin Petersen yesterday. The GOAL project was introduced by Sepp Blatter in 1999, ostensibly to build a footballing infrastructure worldwide but also as a clever re-election tool.

It has gone on to become a cornerstone of Fifa policy, with a huge department running the disbursement of money. Most projects are headquarters for football associations, training centres, artificial pitches and dormitory facilities.

Most Southern African countries have three to four projects already - vital to the running of the games. The process is simple - to put forward a plan, after which Fifa funds the structure while the land needed is obtained by the home association.