The vacant CEO position was held by Russell Paul who left to work for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Football Association (Safa) is looking for a “visionary leader” with a background in football to fill the vacant chief executive’s position Russell Paul vacated to work with Fifa in organising the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Paul had been acting CEO since last year after the departure of Dennis Mumble.

Safa vice-president Gay Mokoena will not only look for the next CEO but he will also hold the position in the interim while the organisation conduct their search for the replacement.

Mokoena said they have given themselves three months to find the right candidate.

“We are looking for a candidate who is going to provide good leadership for the organisation,” Mokoena said.

“It will be somebody from the football industry, that always helps. It will be somebody who will be able to link us with the business community so that we are able to balance the financial side to the football side.

“But we want a visionary leader who can take the football association to a much higher level.”

Paul described his departure as bitter-sweet. He arrived when Safa was in a mini crisis with the SABC, its main financial backers, at loggerheads with the organisation in terms of their contract renewal. SABC had offered Safa R10-million for Bafana Bafana’s broadcasting rights that they were paying R110m for previously.

While Safa was trying to tie SABC into a better, or similar deal, the association was also trying to launch the women’s national league without a sponsor.

Safa weathered the storm to sign another deal with SABC, which isn’t worth R110m but worth more than the R10m they offered. The women’s league is also currently in operation.

“This is a bitter-sweet moment because in the early days all I was doing is literally making sure how are we going to pay bills,” Paul said.

“As a team - with the support of the president (Danny Jordan), the CFO, the chairperson of finance and the staff - we managed to put a number of things into place to get back a fair amount of confidence."

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“In the next couple of days, rest assured that you are going to see a few more deals that we have closed. They just need to be formalised and would be announced.

“Safa is at a point now where we have turned that particular corner.

“It’s bitter on the one hand to be leaving, but it is also good to know that you are not running away from something. There is nothing to run away from. There is everything to look forward to.

“You will see massive changes in women’s football. You are going to see massive changes in the development of the game. And there is going to be some exciting news for Bafana Bafana coming up in the next couple of weeks.”

Part of those changes include Safa reaching an agreement with the SABC to broadcast all the finals of their competitions from beach football, to indoor football, junior tournaments and women’s football.

Bonginkosi Ndadane


The Star

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