Wednesday, 8 April 2015

South African football is in crisis, and here's why (includes video)

ONCE A PIRATE: Irvin Khoza, PSL chairman
DISKI Mzanzi is in crisis. South African football faces falling attendances, a dying transfer market, a merry-go-round of FOURTEEN coaching changes in a 16-team league.

We have barely recovered from an AFCON which saw Bafana garne JUST A SINGLE POINT when both of our African Champions League "giants" - leaders Kaizer Chiefs and current PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns - went crashing out in the first round.

There were no refereeing blunders, there was no intimidation, just humiliation. Failure.

This morning on the South African 24-hour news channel ANN7 (205 on your DSTV bouquet) I appeared on Peter van Onselen's "Phuka" morning show in an attempt to get across the true depth of the crisis facing our game. Though my football writing colleagues will rail against it and Twitter will issue threats, it's only the truth.

Denigrating South African football is not my agenda. Improvement, change, even revolution is needed. Just like Issa Hayatou, PSL chairman Irvin Khoza, the man who took over Orlando Pirates in the early 1990s, is in his late 60s and has been in charge of the game in this country for over 20 years.

And quite apart from the problems highlighted above, Khoza runs a club which closed its academy due to age cheating, he has refused to promote Eric Tinkler from his caretaker role despite unprecedented success and though his club pulls in MILLIONS in sponsorship, he refuses to spend money on his team.

He can't even run his club properly, let alone the PSL. And I am reliably informed it was Khoza who dictated the new conditions for agents in this country after FIFA's recommended treatment for "intermediaries"... though the legislation promised on April 1 has failed to materialise.

This is not an anti-Khoza rant, just a polite request for change. For truth. Though the South African media big guns - particularly Robert Marawa, Thomas Mlambo and the excitable Sunday Times "sports editor" BBK - will deny it, our game is not healthy.

As I say in the video below, our clubs don't scout for players, the rely on agents. Though there is a reputed R14,000-a-month minumum wage in the PSL, many youngsters are on a fraction of that. I know of one who has played 10 first team games this season and is on R2,000 a month. Another who played for Bafana at COSAFA and is on R6000... about the level of a supermarket shelf stacker.

From the bottom to the top - where Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates join billionaire Patrice Motsepe's Sundowns as the only clubs in the financial comfort zone - were are watching our game fall apart. There is no investment, no marketing, no sign of grass roots growth from Danny Jordaan's infamous FIFA Legacy Fund, a R500m post-World Cup 2010 bonus.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but it would be handy if a few people opened their eyes to the truth. Dr Khoza himself has acknowledged the influence of agents on our national head coaches; we have done NOTHING to establish who was involved in the pre-World Cup match-fixing scandal... SAFA won't even discuss their two most recent promises of a Technical Director and a statue for the murdered captain Senzo Meyiwa.

I don't make these things up. I don't enjoy endless repetition of the negative. But SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.

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