Sports minister vows to go ahead with Football Indaba despite Safa snub

07 November 2019 - 06:11 By MAHLATSE MPHAHLELE
Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa is pushing ahead with plans for an indaba to fix problems in SA soccer.
Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa is pushing ahead with plans for an indaba to fix problems in SA soccer.
Image: Trevor Samson

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa says it would be a tragedy if South African Football Association (Safa) officials stuck to their guns and snubbed the Football Indaba he has proposed for later this month.

Mthethwa made a commitment to host the indaba during his budget speech in parliament four months ago. He announced a plan to bring the sport's stakeholders together in a bid to address persistent problems plaguing SA's national soccer teams.

But Safa put a spanner in the works last week, when it said they would not participate because world football governing body Fifa frowns upon government interference.

“We have planned the indaba and it will continue - that’s what we have,” said Mthethwa.

The minister insisted that the plan was not an attempt by government to interfere with football.

“I have heard things being said [that Safa won't attend], but what I can say is that government will never compete with any federation. Our job is to complement them. We want everybody’s buy-in because we want to ensure that what is happening with the Springboks is happening with football as well," he said.

“Let us talk about what is happening in football, because things are not as they are supposed to be.

"We don’t want anybody to have any confusion: we are here to assist our athletes, we are here to ensure that they succeed and we want everybody to be part of it."

Mthethwa said it would be unfortunate if Safa failed to attend the indaba.

“It would be a tragedy if an important player like Safa, as the mother body of football in the country, doesn’t see the value in us coming together. But for now we have planned the indaba. Nobody has spoken to me, but I have seen things in the media. Maybe they [Safa] are still going to talk to us," he said.

"An indaba to be convened without Safa may not yield the results we need. That is why we want them, as the main body, to be there.

"We are open for everybody to be there and I will still urge them to be part of the indaba. As I am now, I am confident that we are going to have it and it will involve everybody.”