If recent reports are to be believed, Danny Jordaan will, in exactly three weeks from today, be appointed South African Football Association president, taking over from Kirsten Nematandani after the latter’s disastrous four years at the helm.
While we still await official, audited nominations, indications are that the majority of Safa’s regions want Jordaan to lead the association, sparking excitement in certain quarters that he can dig the organisation out of the rut into which it has sunk.
As this column pointed out previously, Nematandani’s reign is best forgotten, and it is little surprise that Safa’s regions lost confidence in him. After all, he was not their main pick when he ascended to the throne four years ago. Jordaan was their preferred man, but he was forced to withdraw due to questions surrounding his eligibility then.
He had worked tirelessly to secure a majority of votes for the so-called Football Transformation Forum, under which Nematandani also fell, hence his ascendancy when Jordaan pulled out.
This time, there’s no questioning Jordaan’s credentials, having been one of Safa’s vice-presidents since after World Cup 2010, and it is unsurprising that he’s running again for a position he yearned to occupy four years ago.
There’s no question that Jordaan, with his wealth of experience – sporting and political – has the competence to turn the fortunes of Safa around. He became the face of Africa’s bid for a first World Cup, and when it succeeded, ensured it was so well run that even perennial pessimists today have a different view about this continent.
His international standing makes him an obvious magnet for corporate backing, which Safa so sorely lacked under Nematandani.
All this is precisely why some in certain quarters just cannot wait for September 28, when the election takes place. We are told by those supposedly in the know that after this date, our football will be back on track.
While change is an absolute requirement at Safa House given the travails of the past decade – abysmal decline of national teams, a poor administration that cannot read basic rules – it is imperative that we differentiate between hyperbole and fact when discussing the upcoming Safa election.
For starters, it would be amiss to insulate Jordaan entirely from the mess of recent years because he has been part of the very failed Safa leadership. It’s unfair to blame Nematandani wholly for all wrongs, when in reality he wielded little power. The arrival of Jordaan at Safa House following the World Cup reduced Nematandani to no more than a ceremonial leader who represented the association in functions of little relevance and in mandatory pre-kickoff handshakes with players.
But the biggest question for me is why, four years on, the so-called FTF has been torn down the middle? I remember Mandla Mazibuko, the Safa vice-president who will also contest the presidency, mobilising Jordaan’s support outside an OR Tambo Airport hotel in the 2009 poll. Today the two barely see eye to eye, with Mazibuko having jumped ship.
What does that tell us about “unity” that Jordaan has promised will follow after the election? How did relations between Mazibuko and Jordaan deteriorate so badly in a short four-year period that they are now campaigning against each other? Is this about the good of the game, or personal ambitions of two self-serving power-mongers?
On the back of these questions, you will excuse me for not being sold about the “change” we are supposedly going to be blessed with after September 28. Merely changing titles from vice-president to president is not going to make a lot of difference, not least when the favourite has been a de facto president anyway.
Change at Safa will have to be driven by people who have the game at heart – not those who, like Jordaan and Mazibuko, have been changing camps and squabbling since 1991, when the organisation was formed. By the way, Jordaan contested, and lost, three continental and regional elections in the past two years. Perhaps as Safa president we’ll see why he’s our sudden messiah, as his coterie of praise-singers want us to believe. - Saturday Star
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