JOHANNESBURG – It might sounds far-fetched to talk about another federation’s elective congress but South African Football Association (Safa)’s elections this afternoon are, on the African continent, what American presidential elections are to the entire universe. They attract large-scale attention.
Saturday’s Safa elections will have ramifications on the continent and the world at large.
Thing is, Safa has become a global player ever since Africa’s biggest federation was admitted back into Fifa some 21 years ago. Safa is a multi-million dollar industry and presides over a budget of around R400million annually.
Safa is the only soccer federation on the African continent which has hosted the World Cup and remains realistically the only Association which has the capacity to compete with other big global players. The Association, just like any other corporate globally, is undergoing financial constraints due to universal recession but still has a budget that cannot be compared to any other player in Africa.
Apart from being the number one option when things go wrong on the other parts of this continent, Safa remains the destination of choice on the African continent to host major soccer events. It recently hosted what Caf said was a benchmark Afcon tournament having replaced Libya at the last minute.
As a result, events in the country, especially elections, have huge implications across the globe, especially on the African continent. For today’s elections which will see Vice Presidents, Danny Jordaan going head to head with Mandla ‘Shoes’ Mazibuko, world governing soccer body FIFA has sent its representatives to observe the process and outcome of the much-anticipated elections.
Caf who also have a lot of interest in the outcome, have dispatched a high-level delegation to watch what course Safa will take in the next four years.
Normally events preceding the elections are dirty and full of ugly campaigns but to their credit, the local media has refused to be used by any group and has snubbed publishing hate speech against the both candidates.
They have given each side a chance to articulate its side of the story and sell itself to the electorate.
Fears of a dirty campaign which has been a hallmark of previous elections have remained just that.
It has been a clean campaign and anyone who will win today’s mandate will have done so to the satisfaction of Safas’s 52 Regions.
On his part, Mazibuko who is an educator by profession has asked for the electorate to give him one of the continent’s most demanding jobs on strength of his past work within schools.
On the other hand, Jordaan who was the face of the 2010 World Cup has asked voters to look at his past track record which few would strive to match.
Soccer fans have rightly argued that South African soccer has been on the downhill trend and needs a shrewd and bold leader to steer it out of the murky waters.
Failure by the senior national soccer team to qualify for major events has blighted outgoing Safa President Kirsten Nematandani’s tenure and both Mazibuko and Jordaan have vowed to reverse that drift.
May the best man win!
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