Outspoken South Africa Minister for sports and recreation Hon. Fikile April Mbalula is of the opinion that, it is time to rejuvenate the Confederation of African Football (CAF) with fresh leadership.
Fikile was addressing members of “Football Africa Arena” in a question and answer session which delved into the general South Africa football and beyond on Thursday 22.
“My answer, CAF needs rejuvenation, fresh blood. Those people have been around forever, change is IMPORTANT in any organization, I think honestly they have reached inertia,”soka25east.com reported .
The continental football body has been under the strong rule of 70 year old Cameroonian Issa Hayatou since 1988, and with term limits of office holders well scrapped, the former secretary general and chair of Cameroon football association has made it known through proxies he would defend his seat next year.
Probed on widespread perception that the rainbow nation hijacked what was meant to be an “African World Cup” in 2010 for own benefits, the ANC stalwart was categorical the rest of the continent also dipped their hands in the cookie jar.
“That is an unfortunate situation, we need unity of the African people, over 70 million dollars was spent in the continent allocated directly to the FAs,”
“70 million US dollars was spent on “Win in Africa” for Africa 2010 world cup and we gave 10 million US dollars to the Caribbean for the African diaspora.”
On the delicate issue of racial quotas when it comes to national teams selection and fielding, the honorable Member of Parliament reiterated on the need for transformation, since the playing field was tilted by the oppressive apartheid.
“In South Africa the playing field is not leveled that is why we are talking transformation. Apartheid ravaged our people and was skewed in its affirmation of talent. Common nationhood is about integration,”
“We don’t have quotas; we are talking targets which is not a question of mere semantics but an organic programme of sport development from grassroots to high performance. Quotas were counterproductive and misused whereas targets is about the goals each federation set for itself. For example rugby will select players of color based on targets they have set for themselves failure to do so we implement penalties.”
He dispelled accusations that the government is making it extremely hard for players from other African nations to acquire visas and work permits to enable them play in the country’s lucrative leagues,
“Not at all, we have got a new visa regulatory regime but for sport people those issues where they become a constrained, my department has intervened.”
Fikile recommends an attractive brand of football and good officiating if African countries want fans in the stands,
“The question of attracting crowds is an African phenomenon and an America’s especially USA where soccer is not a number one sport. Our soccer fans need an attractive style of football and good officiating, dedicated players who are not shy to display talent. The goal of everyone seem to be “I play to impress European lucrative leagues” nothing wrong but that must change. Marketing and what attract fans to the stadiums is good football, best managed teams and best referees. We all believe in winning, all teams want to win, once a team faces a slump it all affects the morale of attendance there’s no single answer to this unfortunately.”
He holds that good football infrastructure alone is not enough to guarantee “Bafana Bafana” success, South Africa football philosophy should be formulated,
“Brazil despite the junk status they have acquired, their own infrastructure is highly modernized,”
“Our problem can be summed up as football development and/or improvement of strategic leadership across the board including the formulation of South African football philosophy. You can have all the good things without a strategy and philosophy you doomed. Nonetheless we are rectifying.”
The ministry is implementing a rigorous school sports programme that will ensure talent is identified and natured at early stage.
“I am implementing a rigorous school sport programme, school sport leagues that includes football. We have talent here in South Africa the question for us is to get that talent to our academies at an early age because football age is highly distorted.”
-Football Africa Arena (FAA) is a Whatsapp group that brings together the biggest minds in African football for the good of game.