Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula, on Monday said:
“I have resolved to revoke the privilege of Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa (CSA), Netball South Africa (NSA) and South African Rugby (SARU) to host and bid for major and mega international tournaments in the Republic of South Africa as a consequence of the aforementioned federations, not meeting their own set transformation targets with immediate effect”.
“I will review this decision when considering the results of the 2016/2017 Transformation Barometer.”
This decision was made, based on the 2014/15 figures, which means an effective ban of two years. The closing date for bids to present RWC 2023 ends in 2017, which will have catastrophic consequences for SA Rugby.
According to SARU CEO, Jurie Roux, there is no question that rugby had more work to do, although, he adds “… our sport has undergone a major overhaul. Our barometer for 2015 shows we have achieved our target in 11 out of 13 dimensions.”
The case for Soccer
“In respect of the South African Football Association, I am delighted that SAFA has met its transformation targets. I will, however, issue a Ministerial directive to SAFA as a consequence of their poor drive to penetrate and roll out football in former Model C schools and private schools,” said Mbalula.
It must be very gratifying for local soccer fans that their sport have finally managed to emerge from the shadows of lesser sports like rugby and cricket.
The latter two has managed to stay competitive in world sport over the past 24 years, with rugby even winning two World Cups, and cricket constantly featuring at or near the top of the rankings in all three versions of the game.
Football, unfortunately, went the other way.
From winning the African Cup of Nations in 1996 when we beat Tunisia 2 – 0, we are now not even able to qualify for the tournament. The make-up of that team, captained by Neil Tovey, was also far more representative of the nation than it is today.
Legends like coach Clive Barker, Lucas Radebe, André Arendse, Mark Fish, John Shoes Moshoeu, Doctor Khumalo, Philemon ‘Chippa’ Masinga, Shaun Bartlett and Mark Williams all contributed to making the country proud, a year after the Springboks won the rugby world cup in their first attempt.
So, despite steady deterioration, SA Football is now the only side allowed to organise international tournaments. The only problem is that nobody wants to play against us.
This reminds me of younger days when only the rich kid had a football. Despite his ineptitude, the others were forced to include him because, without the ball, they could not play.
What do we stand to lose?
- International sports events generate massive business opportunities, and inflows of funds from overseas, something that is seriously lacking in a country staring down the barrel of a junk status shotgun.
- Top sportsmen and women will now have even more reason to ply their trade overseas – permanently. The adulation in India for a player like AB de Villiers will now become something we only see on TV.
- Up and coming stars will move overseas at a young age to become eligible to represent other countries.
What has government done to promote facilities at grass root levels, other than blame sports governing bodies?
In the tiny positive section left in my brain, I envisage a lifting of this ban, a few days or weeks after the local municipal elections in August.