South African Football Association Strategy for National Teams: briefing by SAFA

Sports, Arts and Culture

28 August 2006
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Meeting report

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 August 2006
SOUTH AFRICAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION STRATEGY FOR NATIONAL TEAMS: BRIEFING BY SAFA

Chairperson:
Mr B Khompela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
SAFA Budget Projections

SUMMARY
The Committee met with the South African Football Association to receive a briefing on a strategy to improve the performance of the national team. It outlined the key challenges to soccer development. A five year budget plan had been formulated and was outlined. The Technical Committee then outlined the process for appointment of the National Team coach, and stated that Carlos Parreira would commence on 1 September 2006. Renewed commitment from national team players was needed to improve overall team performance. The newly formed commercial wing of SAFA would provide extensive support to the Senior Team and the Under-23 Team. A strong team would result from a concerted effort by all stakeholders to provide meaningful support structures. A Coaches’ Forum had been created, and there would be links between coaches of the various national teams. The identification and development of youth players remained a key concern. The creation of a provincial soccer tournament was proposed to assist in developing talent in neglected parts of the country. Pride in the national jersey had to be resuscitated. The government could play a role in improving the level of pride through political awareness education at training camps. SAFA intended to hold regular meetings with the Minister. Communication from SAFA had to be enhanced.

Members’ questions included the issues of the media reports on Mr Radebe, education campaigns, how best to instil pride in the national team, the restriction of the Mvela League to local players, the National coach’s contract and conditions of service, the alleged “dumping” of ex-players, and how to improve poor performance, which was identified as a major stumbling block. They agreed that better communication on many levels was required from SAFA.

MINUTES
The Chairperson stated that the Committee sought detail on plans to enhance the national team performance. No goals had been scored at the recent African Cup of Nations tournament. The reason given at the time was that the team was in rebuilding phase. However, the majority of the players from that team were no longer involved in the squad. Much speculation prevailed as to the future of the national team and the reasons for the dismal performances. Ambiguous messages emanated from the South African Football Association (SAFA) hierarchy. Evaluation of performance would be guided by clarity on the strategy to be implemented. Regular interaction between the Committee and SAFA was necessary.

South African Football Association Briefing
Mr Molefi Oliphant (President: SAFA) stated that the Association sought to outline the key challenges to soccer development. Members of the Technical Committee would provide feedback on the appointment of the new coach. A five year budget plan had been formulated. A financial company would be established to manage the commercial activities of the various national teams. The company’s Board had been assembled. The new national coach would be the most qualified person to outline the plans to enhance team preparation and performance.

Mr Sturu Pasiya (Technical Committee Chairman: SAFA) stated that 100 applications had been received for the national team coaching position. 15 names had also been identified by means of “headhunting”. The selection process was initiated in November 2005 and the list was whittled down to three. SAFA had created a profile of the type of coach that was desired. The Technical Committee was involved in the formulation of the criteria. Much debate prevailed around the issue of a foreign versus a local coach. The final choice of Carlos Parreira was unanimously approved by the Executive-Committee. The services of the chosen coach were secured after much negotiation in particular around the issue of salary. He would arrive on 1 September 2006. Renewed commitment from national team players was needed to improve overall team performance. The newly formed commercial wing of SAFA would provide extensive support to the Senior Team and the Under-23 Team. A strong team would result from a concerted effort by all stakeholders to provide meaningful support structures. A Coaches’ Forum had been created to facilitate the inculcation of a common national style of play. The national coach’s vision had to be understood by all coaches at all levels. Links between coaches of the various national teams would facilitate the absorption of a single playing style - for example the under 23 coach would be part of the Senior Team technical committee. The identification and development of youth players remained a key concern. The creation of a provincial soccer tournament was proposed to assist in developing talent in neglected parts of the country. Pride in the national jersey had to be resuscitated. The government could play a role in improving the level of pride through political awareness education at training camps.

Mr Oliphant added that the Minister of Sport and Recreation had expressed an interest in such an exercise. Players should not raise salary issues when participating in international tournaments. SAFA intended to hold regular meetings with the Minister. Players should be proud to represent their country and should put its interests first. SAFA also intended to maintain regular updates to the Committee.

Discussion
The Chairperson declared that regular meetings between the Minister and SAFA was welcomed. Members had the right and responsibility to ask pertinent questions of SAFA in the interests of national team performance.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) suggested that SAFA had to deal with contentious issues, such as the appointment of the national coach, in a more decisive manner. Intensive education was required to foster a renewed sense of pride in the national jersey. The Committee had grown impatient with all major federations in terms of political squabbles. National teams remained a national asset. Federations had to take charge of their respective sporting codes. The poor performance of the national soccer team had to cease.

Gen B Holomisa (UDM) reminded Members that many professional soccer league teams made use of foreign players, which hindered the development of local talent. The implementation of a provincial tournament would take time. He proposed that the Mvela League should be restricted to local players in the interests of local development. Clarity was sought on the Radebe incident where the former Bafana Bafana captain had publicly indicated his intention to leave South Africa. He asked which individual was in charge of soccer as many conflicting reports circulated in the media.

Mr Oliphant declared that SAFA concurred with the notion that the Mvela League should restrict the presence of foreign players in the interests of local player development.

Mr J Louw (ANC) asserted that the national team was a national asset and greater transparency in SAFA was required. He asked whether the newly appointed national coach had signed a contract and the amount of salary to be paid. The current local technical support staff could be sidelined by the advent of the coach’s own particular support staff that would accompany him.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) stated that Radebe should be treated in an acceptable manner. He claimed that a lack of communication between Radebe and SAFA on his possible involvement in the national team set-up had caused confusion and frustration. Other countries treated their ex-players in a more acceptable fashion. He asked what role the envisaged Committee of Coaches would play. He believed that the present under-23 coach should be included in the Senior Team coaching staff. He also suggested that SAFA must ensure that PSL teams released national players for international matches and must assist players in understanding the terms of contracts that had to be signed.

Commenting on these remarks by members, Mr Oliphant explained that SAFA .was administered by committees as determined by the Association’s constitution, and that the National Executive Committee appointed the administration committees. Leading players were professionals who understood contracts and other relevant documents. Players interacted with SAFA on five occasions during the year. Selected players had to report to the Association five days before an international match. Many of the current Senior Team players had come up from the under 23 ranks. Permission was required from the individuals concerned before divulging the salaries of the new incumbents. The amounts mentioned in the national media were not correct.

Gen Holomisa sought clarity on the discussion around exchange controls and the envisaged impact on the coach’s salary package. He asked why the amount should fluctuate and whether the coach would be paid in a foreign currency.

Mr Mubarak Mahomed (Vice-President:SAFA) responded that the contract with the new coach was dollar-based and was tax free.

The Chairperson asked whether permission had been sought from the Finance Minister for a tax-free salary.

Mr Mahomed responded that the contract was dollar based but the payments would be made in rands. SAFA would pay the tax due on behalf of the new coach.

Mr Pasiya clarified that SAFA did not “dump” players once their playing days had ended. Former National Team players were placed in key coaching positions. For example, Steve Khompela was the current head coach of the Under 23 Team. SAFA had wanted Radebe to be manager of the senior team. SAFA had approached him last year to become involved but he indicated his unwillingness at that time, and had ignored recent attempts to communicate with him.

The Chairperson stated that the impression members had gained about Radebe was also commonly shared by the general public. An adequate response to the allegations was needed to quell the rumours. Discussions in the public domain about the dumping of players should be addressed by accurate information.

Mr Oliphant stated that the names of the three candidates for coach were mentioned at the National Executive Committee meeting of 11 August 2006. Radebe was nominated to be the manager. The names were provided to the Minister for consideration.

Gen Holomisa asked whether the National Executive Committee would deal with the Radebe issue.

Mr Pasiya clarified further that the idea of a provincial competition further. It was mooted to address the problems of inadequate local player development. The Mvela League teams were semi-professional teams and were self-financing and therefore independent.

The Chairperson stated that the issue was one of local job creation. Local players had to be promoted within a local league.

Mr Pasiya declared that challenges still remained. Players were flooding into the country from African states. The National Executive Committee would meet on Friday to decide on the Radebe issue. SAFA had proposed that fixtures should be better synchronised to allow clubs to release players.

Mr Mahomed stated that a contract was in place between Parreira and SAFA. However, certain logistical arrangements still had to be concluded.

Mr Frolick stated that the salary of the national coach was a matter of public importance and the information should be made available. SAFA’s budget projections indicated that the coach would receive a monthly salary of R1.8 million over a period of 46 months.

Gen Holomisa stated that the tax-free condition meant that the overall salary was even more than the budget projections indicated.

Mr Mahomed stated that the budget was derived from the contract. All costs to SAFA had been accommodated within the R1.8 million salary and the tax obligation was included in the total amount. The monthly amount was consistent for the duration of the contract.

Mr Oliphant added that the Association had nothing to hide and the budget projections were clearly stated.

Mr Dikgacwi reiterated his question whether the players understood the forms that had to be signed and whether SAFA provided assistance. He asked whether the lack of understanding on the part of players could result in frustration that emerged during international matches. Past key players had to be included in the coaching forum.

Mr B Solo (ANC) stated that many citizens complained bitterly to Members about the state of soccer in South Africa. The Committee was entitled to be informed of all pertinent information. Pride must be restored to the national team. Clear decisive answers to questions had to be provided. A dialogue between SAFA and supporters had to be restored.

Ms M Ramakaba-Lesiea (ANC) asked whether local coaching expertise could not have been utilised in the national team. She asked for clarity on the long-term strategy to improve the performance of the team. Poor results had a negative impact on many citizens and their families. Transparency in SAFA had to be promoted. The payment of tax by SAFA was problematic. She asked whether SAFA provided benefits to ex-players upon retirement.

Ms W Makgate (ANC) noted that the new coach would be employed on a part-time basis until 1 January 2007 and asked whether any financial implications would accrue. The coach would arrive on 1 September and the team would play a match on the following day. She asked whether this was an optimal arrangement.

Mr L Reid (ANC) believed that the problem in soccer lay with the administration. Appointed coaches tended to under perform with the national team but excelled elsewhere. He asked what response SAFA had expressed to the recent Department of Sport initiative to improve the performance of the team.

Mr E Muneri (SAFA Technical Committee member) answered several of the points raised. He stated that the technical committee had participated in the process to devise the selection criteria for the coach. The choice of a local coach had to be substantiated. Coaching forums would be influential and impose some form of regulation. He stated that it was clear that players understood contracts signed. He commented that political awareness education at training camps would be welcomed.
 
Mr Pasiya added that SAFA was in favour of local coaches and 12 had coached the national team since readmission.

The Chairperson reiterated that the recent poor performances by the National Team were a major concern. The Committee supported the appointment of a top-class coach but the size of the support team was controversial. Skills transfer to local coaches was of paramount importance. A future National coach should be groomed from within the ranks of the National Team. SAFA’s development agenda must be more clearly conveyed to Members.

Mr Mahomed stated that the recent protest action by players at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt was unacceptable. Payment to compete for your country was an unusual phenomenon. Agents, rather than laywers, should deal with problems on contracts. South Africa was the only country in Africa that paid players to participate with the highest offers in every category. SAFA regarded teams as national assets. The World Cup Local Organising Committee had asked SAFA to spend resources to assist improvement of the National Team. He confirmed that the projected budget was accurate.

The Chairperson asked whether a performance agreement was included in the coach’s contract and what steps could be taken if performance was below expectations.

Mr Mahomed stated that the new contract would be active until the end of the 2010 World Cup. SAFA could terminate the contract if need be. The coach also had the option to terminate if he so desired. SAFA had acquired the guaranteed amount from FIFA in advance. $10 million had been used to build the SAFA House and $10 million would be used to promote improved team performance. The monthly salary would fluctuate in relation to the exchange rate. The first assistant coach would receive R590 000 per month.

Gen Holomisa asked whether SAFA had researched the qualifications of the new coach’s support staff or relied on recommendations.

Mr Pasiya stated that SAFA had arranged that two local assistant coaches be included in the coaching staff.

Gen Holomisa stated that the difference in salaries between the foreign and local assistant coaches was too extreme.

Mr Mahomed stated that local coaches would only be paid for time spent with the National Team during matches.

The Chairperson felt that more clarity was needed on the role of assistant coaches.

Mr Muneri stated that SAFA had wanted two permanent local assistant coaches to be appointed but the coaches in question wanted to retain existing contracts with their clubs for job security.

Mr Frolick noted that sport was a multi-billion dollar industry and it would be difficult to clearly establish how the salary package was derived.

The Chairperson concurred that sports development was vital and skills transfer to local coaches had to be part of the plan. Local coaching talent should not be ignored.

Mr Oliphant agreed that skills transfer was a priority. The discrepancy between salaries would be considered. An internationally competitive salary had to be offered to the new coach.

Mr Mahomed stated that the local assistants would be paid for the seven days around all international matches.

The Chairperson asked that players’ discipline be improved. A clear communication strategy was required.

Mr Oliphant advised Members that the Radebe issue would be pursued. Communication with the committee and the media would be enhanced. The performance of the team would be improved in the national interest.

The meeting was adjourned.

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