By FOCUS REPORTER
The South African Football Supporters’ Association (SAFSA) has noted with dismay the misinformed remarks and allegations leveled against the Association by the Kaizer Chiefs executive chairman, Kaizer Motaung.
In his weekly column, Motaung alleged that SAFSA is silent about undesired violent and disruptive behavior shown by supporters of Bloemfontein Celtics and Mamelodi Sundowns.
Motaung has also implicated in his statement that SAFSA role “is to appease warrying factions and fuel discontent between club administrators and those they seek to lead”.
His column reads,“…in the case of Celtic and Sundowns, I would have expected SAFSA to at least mediate a truce (if mandated) but it seems it remained a toothless entity that allowed the situation to spin out of control. I also wait to understand its (SAFSA) role when its members abuse their own players by booing them to a point of invading dressing rooms with a vicious intent to eject them out of their work….”
In reaction to Motaung’s allegations, the executive director of SAFSA, Siyabulela Makunga said, “We are grossly disappointed by Mr. Motaung remarks, particularly understanding his position in the PSL and his iconic administrative background in football. In our view his remarks are misinformed and habours and intention to discredit the good work SAFSA has been doing. Considering our relationship with the PSL and SAFA, it would have been much appropriate for the Chairman to seek our position on the matter before making such baseless and misleading remarks”.
Makunga argued that anti-hooliganism is embedded in SAFSA’s constitutional objectives that were formally tabled to the PSL’s Executive Committee in August 2010, through the League’s C OO, Professor Ronnie Schloss.
“Among SAFSA’s objectives and values, we have committed to facilitate dispute resolution between our members and their respective clubs. We have essentially and unreservedly condemned all forms of violent and indecent behavior” Makunga added.
In view of the unfortunate remarks made by Motaung, SAFSA would like to bring the following into proper perspective;
· SAFSA is not the ”so-called” Association, it is the legitimate Association backed by over a million football loyalists, with 25 000 registered members from all nine (9) provinces of the Republic of South Africa;
· Although SAFSA respects its provisional recognition by the South African Football Association (SAFA) however wish to state categorically that the Association is an independent structure that is legitimized by its Constitution, its constituency and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Bill of Rights);
· In view of the autonomous status held by supporters clubs of various PSL Teams, who are not automatically members of SAFSA, the Association has been monitoring the situation, advised where necessary and is adamant that the administrators of both teams and their respective supporters clubs have the competency to deal with the matters internally. It is also important to note that SAFSA is not an Association of PSL supporters’ structures but an Association for all football supporters across the board, and only intervenes or facilitate dispute resolutions when it has been requested to do so by either the Club’ administrators and/or supporters’ structures;
· The Association is therefore pleased to have noted the commitment and professionalism shown by Club administrators and supporters’ structures of the two teams in question, to engage internally with a view to find cordial ways with which to address the concerns of the supporters while rooting-out undesirable elements of hooliganism;
· Following a meeting held between SAFSA and PSL Chairman Dr. Irvin Khoza, SAFSA has written numerous letters and proposals to the PSL, requesting the PSL to introduce a National Football Supporters’ Manual in which all stakeholders can collectively determine the terms of engagement between football supporters’ structures and football administrators, particularly with regard to the conduct of football supporters. The Association is yet to receive a formal response from the PSL despite numerous reminders and follow-ups with the PSL’s COO;
· SAFSA had gone further and made proposals to the PSL, with a view to root-out hooliganism in football and its efforts have fallen on deaf ears. Amongst a list of proposals, the Association called on the PSL to see to it that Clubs invest in supporters education particularly on matters relating but not limited to supporters’ conduct and behavior, as well as introducing Supporters Brigades to help prosecution, naming and shaming of hooligans at the stadia;
· With respect to the deteriorating attendance at the stadia, SAFSA pleaded with the PSL for re-consideration of the ticket prices to accommodate LSM groups that were not necessarily accommodated by ticket prices particularly considering the demographic statistics of people supporting local football. The Association commissioned an independent survey, out of which it and had learnt that most of the respondents did not support the 100% increase of the ticket prices. In light of the numerous debates about the reasons for the dwindling numbers of supporters attending games, SAFSA is currently working closely with the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (GDSACR), in determining the terms of reference for a diagnostic study with which the Department seek to investigate the reasons why numbers have gone down and the intervention measures thereof;
· Clubs need to consistently own up and educate their supporters’ structures and not only do so when they seek financial and business returns;
· The Association also believes that the Chairman should by now know that public outcry in the manner in which games are being marketed, the quality of football and disregard of supporters views, concerns and interests, warrant a re-look of how Clubs run the business of football.