South African soccer tragicomedy continues after the 2010 World Cup

By Mohlomi Maubane | February 8th, 2011 2 Comments

By Mohlomi Maubane

The 2010 World Cup was heralded as the dawn of a new era in South African football. This new epoch was to be devoid of the old amateurish ways in the local game where officials “forget” to perform rudimentary tasks like erecting corner kick flags for an international match. But alas, as the events of the past week have shown, it’s not yet Uhuru.

A few weeks ago, the wise chaps at SAFA announced an upcoming friendly against Burkina Faso, 41st in the FIFA rankings. Problem is they seem to have forgotten to confirm this news with the intended opponents. When they did eventually contact the Burkinabe FA last week to “finalize” arrangements for the match, SAFA officials found out the West African country already had a fixture against Cape Verde on the same day. A scramble to find a “replacement” ensued. So now in preparation for a crucial AFCON qualifier against Egypt in March, on Wednesday (Feb. 9) at the Royal Bafokeng stadium outside Rustenburg Bafana Bafana will instead square up against mighty Kenya, ranked 127th by FIFA.

Speaking of the first World Cup host team to be eliminated in the first round, Bafana Bafana will soon be trading under a different name. Why? SAFA failed to register the team’s nickname. Instead, a shrewd businessman named Stanton Woodrush owns the copyright and is not playing ball, unless he is handsomely rewarded for being the first to register the Bafana name with the Department of Trade and Industry.

Simply put, SAFA are a disgraceful bunch. Despite the election of a new leadership in September 2009, the association failed to secure a training camp for Bafana Bafana in preparation for the 2010 World Cup; failed (again) to submit votes for the FIFA World Player of the Year awards; and failed to send a confirmation letter to CAF stating their intention to send the national Under 23 team to participate in the All-Africa games.

Perhaps, the overall state of the nation and its favourite pastime is best symbolized by the postponement of a Chiefs vs. Swallows game scheduled for February 5 at FNB Stadium – known as Soccer City during the World Cup – due to the theft of electric cables that left the stadium without power. Soccer City was a showpiece of South Africa’s technological sophistication and, with its calabash shell exterior, a monumental symbol of Africa’s first World Cup. The circumstances that led to a domestic league game being postponed there less than nine months after hosting the 2010 World Cup final, together with SAFA’s latest foibles, illustrate vividly how in South African football the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Solomon Waliaula

February 9th, 2011 | 2:38 am    

but maybe they need to play Kenya, if not for the athletic bit of the affair, then the beautiful juxtaposition of how not to administer football, because in my opinion, SA is fast getting to the level of Kenya, in football management terms, and definitely, later, in football terms, because it follows naturally.

Marc Fletcher

February 9th, 2011 | 6:37 am    

I still recall being at FNB for Bafana’s first post-World Cup match v Ghana. Gone was the bombast and excitement of the World Cup. Instead, a limp and lifeless recorded rendition of the national anthems were being played through a couple of speakers pitch-side rather than through the stadium PA system. So many people didn’t hear it so many couldn’t sing. It was just the first sad signal of a return to normality of mediocrity.

The clubs blame the league and SAFA for the state of SA football. The league blames the clubs and SAFA. SAFA, well, seems to be too incompetent to be able to blame anyone.

On the up-side, it seems that the English FA is just as bad.

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