The South African Football Players Union are calling on football governing body FIFA’s intervention in a matter involving PSL club Golden Arrows and Kenyan midfielder Clifton Miheso.
SAFPU representatives were seen picketing outside SAFA House on Tuesday afternoon in their bid to catch the attention of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who paid a courtesy visit to the SA football headquarters.
Infantino is currently in Johannesburg for an ‘executive summit’ to address Africa’s 54 member countries on general issues in the game, as well as explain FIFA’s plans to expand the World Cup and changes to its development structures.
However, upon his departure from SAFA House on Tuesday afternoon, the 46-year-old football administrator was greeted by protesters holding up placards that read “#Justice for Miheso” and “#Respect footballers’ freedom of choice” among others.
The protest stems from allegations that Miheso was forced to cancel his Arrows contract at gunpoint last month.
SAFPU deputy general secretary and former Ajax Cape Town midfielder Nhlanhla Shabalala explained that their aim is to try and bring the matter to the attention of FIFA, after SAFA ignored their request to intervene.
“We’ve been in discussions with FIFpro, who is our mother body, to contact FIFA about this matter as well. And we will take it forward with FIFA and we will see what happens. We want FIFA to force SAFA to investigate this matter because this is not a matter that must be taken lightly,” explained Shabalala. “This is a criminal activity and such cannot happen in our football.”
Meanwhile, SAFA CEO Dennis Mumble was reluctant to comment on the picket, and invited SAFPU to come and meet the association to discuss the issue.
“It’s not something I want to comment on because I really don’t know exactly what it is that they [want],” said Mumble. “They’ve not asked us to do anything, and you can’t ask a person from the street [what they want]. They must come and meet us. I am still waiting for something coming from SAFPU with regard to this issue.”
With claims suggesting SAFPU sent a letter to SAFA, Mumble denied receiving any written communication and requested proof of the letter.
“They have not sent [anything], ask them to show you a copy of the letter. Ask them to show you a copy asking for the South African Football Association to intervene. Ask them, they haven’t done it,” he added.
Shabalala, though, insisted that SAFA were copied in written communication with Arrows boss Mato Madlala, while adding that a response had also been received.
“The letter was sent. They know of the letter, [which] was sent to Mato Madlala – the chairperson of Golden Arrows – and SAFA as well was copied in that letter,” added the 31-year-old retired footballer.
“What we had requested from them was just simple – it was for them to investigate the matter – and the response that they have given us shows that they have no interest in this issue. They said we must provide evidence for all these things, but it is not for us to provide them with evidence as well. The player has come out and spoken openly about what has happened to him, so SAFA must take a stand and look into this issue.”