Safa 'will not participate' in sports minister's football indaba

Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Bafana Bafana Coach Stuart Baxter at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Bafana Bafana Coach Stuart Baxter at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Image: TWITTER/Nathi Mthethwa

The South African Football Association (Safa) have effectively told the Sports Minister to ‘get back in his box’ and say they will have nothing to do with the ministerial football indaba that Nathi Mthethwa has called for later this month.

Mthethwa started sending out invitations to the football industry on Thursday for an indaba in Johannesburg from November 15 to 17‚ which he said sought “to deliberate issues affecting the football fraternity and to jointly develop strategies that will shape the football landscape towards a winning nation”.

Mthethwa had suggested the indaba to parliament in July in reaction to Bafana Bafana’s mediocre returns in recent years and the lack of spectators at most football events.

But Safa have reacted by saying they want nothing to do with the indaba and pointed to the danger of government interference in football‚ which has brought upon many other African countries a Fifa suspension.

“According to Fifa statutes‚ Safa is an independent body and is obliged to avoid any form of third party (e.g. political) interference in football affairs‚” said a statement that Safa issued on Friday.

“Safa has had more than one indaba before‚ and as such will continue exploring these opportunities to engage stakeholders.

“It is football (Safa as the custodian and governing body of football in South Africa‚ recognised by Fifa) that must drive this process (as it has done before)‚” it added.

Safa said the government should be invited as an important stakeholder to participate in any such indabas but made it clear it is football that must organise them‚ not the sports minister.

Safa said it had also met the minister in recent weeks and suggested he had yet to come back to them‚ as promised‚ with his comments on the report card they had presented him.

“Under the circumstances‚ and until such time as further engagement takes place between Safa and the Minister‚ as undertaken by the Minister at the earlier meeting with the NEC‚ Safa cannot see its way clear to participate in an indaba that will effectively be controlled and owned by a third party‚” the statement said.

No Safa members “shall participate in the proposed Indaba”‚ the association added.

Mthethwa had planned to discuss issues such as:

* What is holding back the growth of football in South Africa;

* The role various stakeholders should play;

* How best to support grassroots development and also the professional game “to not only conquer Africa but the world as well”.

But his indaba is also not only taboo now for Safa members‚ it is also badly timed as the last day of planned deliberations clashes with Bafana Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Sudan at Orlando Stadium.

Safa's decision places the association on a potential collision course with Mthethwa as it perhaps throws into jeopardy hopes of the government agreeing to back the bid for the next Women’s World Cup in 2023.

Safa needs the government to sign financial guarantees by December in order to proceed with the bid.

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