CAPE TOWN – At the root of the Tendai Ndoro shambles is a perennial issue which will continue to persistently plague the PSL: conflict of interest. In short, if football’s administrative structures stay the same, there will always be problems.
As long as football polices itself, as long as club owners run the PSL, this is what we will get. Self-interest and personal agendas will always dominate - and, as a result, the sport of football will continue to suffer.
Let’s just rewind a bit.
Back in the 1980s, when football had no real direction, when it was a morass of graft and ineptitude, club bosses needed to step up and show the way; they understood the ins and outs of the game, they were invested in the sport, and they needed to put in place the proper structures to uplift football to its rightful status as the most popular sport in South Africa.
And, here, Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza deserves a massive round of applause: through his leadership and acumen, football was transformed into the efficient, professional organisation it is today.
But that was then: different times call for different measures; different times require different solutions. This is now; it’s 2018, and football needs to move with the times. Surely, by now, football should have changed. Surely, because of the solid, steady and professional footing with which football operates, with the massive amounts of money corporates throw at the sport, moves should already have been afoot to have an independent body run the professional wing of football.
Because, let me say it again, personal interest will always cloud the minds of club representatives when having to make crucial decisions.
Let’s look at it a little closely: Pirates boss Khoza is the PSL chairman; the executive committee consists of the owners of Kaizer Chiefs, Golden Arrows, SuperSport United, Black Leopards, Bidvest Wits, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic; the acting chief executive of the PSL is the owner of Arrows.
So here’s the issue: Back in January, Ajax Cape Town wanted clarity on the eligibility of Ndoro and they took the case to the PSL’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) - a body the PSL regularly trumpets as being independent. The DRC rules that Ndoro can play.
But here’s the problem: at the time, Pirates were in the running for the title Arrows Wits SuperSport and Celtic were all at the basement of the log and staring at the possibility of relegation.
What does the PSL do? They decide that they need to appeal the decision of the independent DRC. Essentially, the decision to appeal was made by the representatives of clubs who had a personal stake in the outcome: if that isn’t a conflict of interest, then I don’t know what is.
Now we have the PSL’s decision to appeal the ruling of a High Court judge.
We can go on and on: Do I need to mention how crowd trouble involving Chiefs and Pirates takes forever to resolve and, when it does, the punishment is lenient; and how, because of this, the PSL has palpably failed to stamp out hooliganism, leading to terrible incidents like last season’s Nedbank Cup semi-final when Chiefs fans ran amok after a defeat to Free State Stars?
The Ndoro saga is a perfect example of football people needing to sit around a table to thrash out a compromise.
I’m on nobody’s side on this issue - because, from where I stand, everybody is wrong: the matter was handled incorrectly right from the start and now nobody wants to accept responsibility for the mess. Essentially, it’s a war of egos; a simple case of mine is bigger than yours - and, most of all, the conflict of interest which taints the decision-makers.
Football in this country has made tremendous strides since the bad old days of the 1980s - but it will get this far and no further, unless it takes self-interest and personal agendas out of the equation. And, in order to do so, there has to be a change: it’s time for football to be administered by an independent body.