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Mon Apr 21 02:40:03 SAST 2014

Sorry state of game in Afcon host nation

Sapa-AFP | 19 January, 2013 08:382 Comments
Bafana Bafana players during the South African national soccer team training session at Orlando Stadium on January 18, 2013 in Soweto
Image by: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

South Africa hope for glory when the Africa Cup of Nations kicks off Saturday, but a match-fixing scandal, a poor standard of domestic football and mismanagement cast shadows over the hosts.

Bafana Bafana (The Boys) won the tournament as hosts in 1996, but many supporters doubt whether they can repeat the feat, even with home advantage and tens of thousands of supporters blowing very noisy vuvuzelas (plastic horns).

Despite boasting by far the richest national league in Africa with a $1.2 million (R10,6 million) first prize, no South African club has won the CAF Champions League since Orlando Pirates succeeded 18 years ago.

“Players don’t have enough international exposure at club level. When they go to the national team, that gets exposed,” said Matshelane Mamabolo, an award-winning Johannesburg Star football writer.

“When you move to international level, nothing really is happening. The junior teams are virtually non-existent,” he told AFP.

So, ironically, the highest-paid footballers on the continent, earning up to $563,000 (423,000 euros) a year, are usually early casualties in pan-African competitions.

Just months before the Africa Cup, a FIFA investigation uncovered a major match-fixing scandal ahead of the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa, with friendlies against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala allegedly fixed.

The report claimed some South African Football Association (Safa) officials worked with the Singapore-based Football 4 U group and, with the collusion of convicted match-fixer Wilson Perumal Raj, fixed the four games by using referees who made a host of dubious decisions.

Five senior Safa officials, including president Kirsten Nematandani and acting chief executive Dennis Mumble, were suspended pending an internal inquiry last year.

However, the bans were later lifted on a technicality, and the probe postponed until after the Africa Cup, which finishes on February 10.

Adding to the woes of Safa, just four months into the financial year they are reportedly $1.1 million (845,000 euros) in debt.

Corruption is believed to be rife in lower-tier leagues, but usually only referees are punished, while clubs and senior officials are let off the hook, said Mamabolo.

“In football, there are untouchables. That set a precedent. People felt they can continue to do it and not get punished,” he explained.

“There’s a feeling people are not in it for the love of the game, but to line their pockets.

“Virtually the same people have managed the game since South Africa were readmitted to international football in 1992 as the apartheid regime crumbled.

“They are not doing enough to develop the game beyond the elite Premiership league,” Mamabolo said.

Last year, eight Premier Soccer League executives paid themselves bonuses running into millions of rand, but the second-tier league did not have a sponsor.

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Sorry state of game in Afcon host nation

For Commenters Consideration | Please stick to the subject matter
Mon Apr 21 02:40:04 SAST 2014 ::

COMMENTS [2]

Looking at the Lance Armstrong affair , their clearly seems to be a vested interest in SA soccer .

Why is it that under a white coach and white captain in 1996 , we could pull off the Afcon , but nothing since . Are losses to saffers and bribe money in the bank , more important than national pride . Why have they been offered "bonuses" if they don't win or even draw . That epitomises mediocrity .

Our coach has a pedigree with PSL teams , some of our players play internationally , and no doubt the usual coterie of European talent scouts will be recruiting more from 20103 Afcon tournament .

If these current bufoona are supposed to be a national asset , they should be besides their skills , be put through a battery of tests to ensure they are taint free and ooze pride , determination and true grit , to perform for the National Pride , and WIN .

Nothing would make me a prouder saffer than for bufoona to win the Afcon and be restored as Bafana - a swear word of late , Regrettably , it does not look like it's gonna happen - especially if sub continent bookmakers are involved . Sad really , really sad .
'u on point about entrenching national pride, just not sure about the human colour scheme and I do not want to call you names. South African soccer enthusuasts (unconditional supporters) though love Gordon, Clive and Mokoko dearly and that's not because they are white. I'm with you on everything else though 99%. The remaining 1 accounting for my faith (hope) that they will do well this time.