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Safa will not stop Kaizer Chiefs hiring ex-Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter

02 June 2021 - 13:06 By mahlatse mphahlele
Safa said it has no objections about coach Stuart Baxter heading to Kaizer Chiefs.
Safa said it has no objections about coach Stuart Baxter heading to Kaizer Chiefs.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The SA Football Association (Safa) will not stop Kaizer Chiefs hiring former Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter should the Naturena-based club elect to appoint the Briton in the coming days.

Chiefs are expected to announce Baxter as their new coach soon‚ but the envisaged appointment has sparked debate among South Africans as the Briton was sacked by Indian Super League side Odisha FC after making highly inappropriate comments about rape during a post-match conference earlier this year.

The nation's soccer lovers and observers have sought Safa's response to Baxter's expected arrival in the country as the mother body reacted very strongly when a domestic club appointed a foreign coach who arrived on these shores with a cloud of controversy hanging over his head.

Safa registered their unhappiness with Chippa United when the Eastern Cape side tried to hire controversial former Free State Stars and Polokwane City coach Luc Eymael in December last year.

Chippa raised eyebrows about the appointment as it came just months after the Belgian was fired‚ with immediate effect‚ by Tanzania Premier League side Young Africans last July for calling the club’s fans “illiterate” and “monkeys”.

Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi told TimesLIVE the football mother body views the Baxter issue differently from Eymael's.

“The position of Safa is that the two matters are different‚” Chimhavi said.

“With the Luc Eymael issue‚ we received correspondence from the Tanzanian Football Association to say this is what the guy had done‚ and it will be prudent that all African federations close ranks and show him there is no room for utterances like that on the continent.

“The difference with Baxter is that this happened in India.

“He apologised and they smoked the piece pipe‚ shook hands and it was over.

“From Safa’s perspective‚ there won’t be a problem if Chiefs were to hire him to become their coach. No problem at all.”

Indian club Odisha FC did not hesitate showing Baxter the door after he made the remarks.

“You need decisions to go your way‚ and they didn’t‚” he said at the time‚ in reference to the performance of match officials during the game.

“I don’t know when we are going to get a penalty. I think one of my players will have to rape someone or get raped himself if he was going to get a penalty.”

The remarks horrified South Africans as Baxter has worked at the top of the domestic game for many years after coaching Bafana twice (2004—2005 and 2017-2019)‚ Supersport United (2016-2017) and Chiefs (2012-2015) during his first spell with the Naturena club.

With regards to Eymael‚ Safa said in December they would write to the minister of home affairs to express their objection to the granting of a work permit for the Belgian when Chippa appointed him.

Safa also said they would request the ethics committees of Fifa and Safa to “charge Mr Eymael as his despicable conduct is a violation of the codes of both bodies”.

Club boss Siviwe Mpengesi eventually reversed the appointment as pressure mounted on him.

Mpengesi attempted to appoint Eymael again in April but was again met with strong condemnation.

Safa had softened their original stance by that time and the Belgian was duly appointed again.

He had taken the matter to the Fifa Ethics Committee and Safa said at the time they could not deny him the right to be employed in the country‚ nor could they deny him permission to enter or exit SA.

The sports mother body said their objection was based purely on the seriousness of the allegations against him as they go against their statutes.

His time in Gqhebera lasted for just days as Mpengesi faced a backlash from the EFF‚ the Eastern Cape provincial government‚ political leaders‚ observers and fans. Mpengesi was once again forced to withdraw his appointment.

The coaching job at Chiefs became vacant on Friday after Gavin Hunt was sacked for a lengthy spell of poor domestic results that have left the club in the relegation zone with two rounds of matches remaining in the season.

Chiefs have already begun the process of strengthening their technical team after luring former Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki to Naturena and appointing him as the club’s head of technical and the youth development academy on Monday.