Can Safa survive latest crisis?
Bumpy ride ahead after the suspension of vice-president and withdrawal of key sponsors
Just 22 days into office, the newly elected SA Football Association (Safa) national executive committee (NEC) is in crisis.
» On Friday, it took a decision to immediately suspend vice-president Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana;
» Earlier in the week, giant banking institution Absa – one of Bafana Bafana’s main sponsors – announced that it would not extend its contract when it expires in December; and
» Puma, which had terminated its agreement as Bafana’s technical sponsor in January, sent out a statement confirming this.
There could be further knocks as all this happens at a time when government is deliberating a regulation that will ban alcohol advertising.
Should this happen, it will be a further blow to Safa as the other major Bafana backer is SABMiller, through its Castle Lager brand.
Absa and SAB had reduced their sponsorship from R100 million per year to R20 million each and this was read to be in relation to the degrading of the Bafana brand.
The national team had failed to qualify for the World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations, except when hosting the events in 2010 and this year, respectively.
Safa reported a R46 million loss at the end of its financial year in June.
Nonkonyana, whose suspension includes his removal as chairperson of the African Nations Championship (Chan) Organising Committee, issued a lengthy press statement on Friday indicating that he was fighting his suspension.
“I have written a letter to Safa acknowledging receipt of the letter of suspension and advising Safa that I am challenging my summarily suspension on the following grounds …,” the statement reads and lists six points on which he is challenging the decision.
One of them is “the decision of the Emco (emergency committee) to consider the matter in my absence as (sic) violated my constitutional right to be heard before such a decision was taken”.
Safa CEO Dennis Mumble yesterday told City Press that former president Molefi Oliphant had been appointed to take over as the Chan Local Organising Committee chairperson.
The decision to suspend Nonkonyana was taken by the emergency committee and ratified by all NEC members.
It followed remarks where he urged Bafana coach Gordon Igesund to resign or face expulsion in the unlikely event of failing to reach the final or win the Chan that runs from January 11 to February 1.
On return from Morocco, where his side played to a 1-1 draw against the host team, a peeved Igesund responded to Nonkonyana’s mandate as “absolute rubbish”.
Mumble said this was one of the toughest weeks in the association. He claimed there was a well-orchestrated move to portray
Safa in a bad light, but could not say who the purported shoddy characters behind the move were.
“We will afford Chief the opportunity to defend himself at a disciplinary hearing,” said Mumble.
He also revealed they were seeking legal advice on whether they could claim compensation from Puma.
“We were surprised by the statement released by Puma this week as it might compromise us in our negotiations for a new partner.”