A bitter war between the South Africa Football Association (Safa) and its associate member, the South Africa Schools Football Association (Sasfa), which have taken each other to court in the past, is brewing.
This after revelations that Sasfa president Mandla Mazibuko has been approached to challenge Danny Jordaan for the Safa presidency next year.
Mazibuko told City Press that he had been approached, but had not yet made up his mind.
Many observers see the impasse over the running of schools football in the country as a result of the 2014 Safa election, when Mazibuko and Jordaan went head to head.
“For me, it’s not about that,” said Mazibuko. “I challenged for that before and, if members want me next time, and I am available. I will stand. And, as a matter of fact, I have been approached already by various other stakeholders to make myself available. It’s an open secret, but that should not be an issue that people are worried about – whether you will stand or not ... We must rise above petty politics and work towards building a better society.”
Even Safa said the spat had nothing to do with a power play between the two presidents.
Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said: “Why should this be seen as a power play? Nothing can be further from the truth. Safa is and remains the governing body of football in the country. There is no need to further demonstrate any power in what has been an otherwise smooth process of talks that led to an agreement to develop a new structure under Safa. Safa has no equal in South African football and does, therefore, not have to demonstrate power to govern the sport that it has governed democratically since its inception.”
He said Safa’s concern “is about the children playing football in our school system, and it will focus on that objective and leave out any competing personality contests”.
Safa claimed victory in the ongoing saga last week. This week, Sasfa came out guns blazing in retaliation.
Sasfa dared Safa to stay away from its members after some were part of the mother body’s press conference last week.
“What Safa is doing is using a divide-and-rule tactic,” said Mazibuko.
He said those who had aligned themselves with the new Safa structure – who include suspended secretary-general Steve Pila and the two vice-presidents, Dickson Molepo and Innocent Sirovha – would be afforded a chance to explain themselves.
National executive member Simangaliso Mgenge has denied being part of last week’s meeting after his name was mentioned as being part of the new body.
Mazibuko alleged that Safa was reluctant to meet with them, saying their requests for meetings had been met with resistance.
Safa said that, although it had not ruled out an out-of-court resolution, it was now “prepared to go to court in the context of Sasfa’s statements on Wednesday”.
“Safa has agreed it must grow schools football by unifying it throughout the country, and has done so consistently over the past two years – running schools football competitions and integrating it into its 52 regional structures. It has approached other role players in schools football and Sasfa in this process.”
However, Mazibuko insists his organisation remains the authentic voice of schools football in the country.
He has now sought the intervention of the departments of sport and education to help end the impasse.
The department of sport said it was aware of the issue.
“In an effort to allow the two bodies to exercise their independence, the minister had instructed them to hold discussions and resolve the current impasse, failing which the minister’s open directive was for both parties to approach him to appoint a mediator to facilitate the discussions to resolve the current issue,” the department said on Friday.
Unless the two departments intervene and restore order, children will most likely suffer in the ongoing battle for control of schools football.