National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill [B17-2006]: Public hearings

Sports, Arts and Culture

11 October 2006
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Meeting report

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
11 October 2006
NATIONAL SPORT AND RECREATION AMENDMENT BILL [B17-2006]: PUBLIC HEARINGS


Chairperson: Mr B Komphela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill B17-2006
South African Rugby: Racism and the Transformation Challenge (PowerPoint Presentation): Part1, Part2 and Part3
SAFA Submission to Parliamentary Committee-Sports Amendment Bill
Lesley Ashton submission
Professional Soccer League presentation [not available]

SUMMARY
The Committee continued with public hearings on the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill. Submissions were received from representatives of the equestrian sport code and from the Professional Soccer League. The horse-sport world had experienced little transformation since 1994. The same individuals tended to dominate the federation. The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) should monitor compliance with national policy directives such as transformation objectives and good governance tenets. Smaller federations should also receive focused attention in a similar fashion to the high-performance sports. Private sector sponsorships had to be directed at meaningful development initiatives as opposed to superficial efforts. A solid base was required to drive the development of professional soccer in South Africa. A common playing style had to be developed. A safe and secure environment for spectators had to be installed to promote increased crowd attendance and the concomitant revenue generation. Local professional players urgently required a more efficient players’ union. A glaring discrepancy currently prevailed between local professional clubs’ playing facilities and Model C and private schools’ facilities. Attempts would be made to use underutilised school sports facilities for professional soccer matches. A Football Development Trust should be established to facilitate increased private sector investment in the local professional league.

Members asked numerous questions including the need for meaningful transformation within the smaller federations affiliated to SASCOC, the need for federations to assist poorer communities with sports facilities, the role of the media in supporting genuine development and transformation efforts, the need for SASCOC to monitor affiliated federations and ensure compliance with policy directives, the right of the government to guide transformation in federations, the role of professional soccer teams in uplifting school sports, whether foreign soccer players underwent a quality check and the number of foreign players allowed per club.

After lunch the Transformation and Anti-Racism Rugby Committee and the SA Football Association made presentations on the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill. The former concentrated on ongoing racism in rugby and supported the proposal that the Minister of Sport and Recreation would be able to intervene in sport federations. Members acknowledged that racism was alive in rugby, but felt the organization made limited input into the Bill and concentrated on its disputes with rugby national governing body.

The Football Association opposed the interventionist powers proposed for the Minister, arguing that this could compromise its relations with the international governing body of soccer which was problematic in advance of the 2010 World Cup. Members declared that the Association was underperforming and this needed urgent intervention. They did not agree that interventionist powers would cause problems with FIFA and maintained that there was a definite need for the Minister to intervene in sporting codes.

MINUTES
The Chairperson stated that the Committee sought to investigate the relationship between the Constitution and the proposed legislative amendments contained in the Bill. White players were being given opportunities to play football in South Africa but many chose to play in overseas leagues for various reasons.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) noted that the migration of players was an international phenomenon based on voluntary choice. The intention was often to seek financial reward for retirement.

The Chairperson referred to the high number of fatal injuries in rugby in South Africa. The safety of players should not be compromised at the expense of financial gain and business opportunities. The Government had a responsibility to ensure that the injury rate was reduced.

Lesley Ashton submission
Ms Ashton and Mr Ace Soki made a submission in their personal capacity as experienced equestrian competitors and participants. The sport had undergone minor transformation since 1994. Senior individuals had not changed for many years. Legislation had to be applied in an efficient and accountable manner. Transformation remained at the superficial level. The newly formed Council for the Sports Horse had created duplication. Office terms should be limited to two terms. The Minister and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) should monitor compliance with equality directives. South African sport required a master plan to attain meaningful transformation. SASCOC should not only focus on high-performance sports. The Bill would have to be implemented in a holistic manner. The media failed to report accurately and expansively on transformation issues. The South African Equestrian Council had failed to promote equity and representivity in the sport. SASCOC should ensure that the Council had adequate administrative capacity. Commercial sponsorship had to be monitored closely to prevent superficial transformation. Delivery had to occur at the local level.

Discussion
Mr Frolick stated that the submission reinforced the perception of Members that the smaller federations were not undergoing real transformation and development. The lack of progress in the smaller federations indicated fault lines within SASCOC. Poor people unable to pay membership fees for a particular federation should receive assistance. Federations had to provide the necessary infrastructure and support to poor communities to drive sport development.

Ms D Morobi (ANC) noted that past attempts at development tended to exploit and use individuals at the expense of genuine upliftment. Certain people had extensive knowledge that was being ignored.

Mr D Dikgacwi (ANC) asked how many groupings were involved in the equestrian federation. He declared that the media tended to trivialise certain issues without highlighting genuine efforts to transform sport. The media had to support transformation efforts.

Mr E Saloojee (ANC) added that the equestrian federation had to make a concentrated effort to acquire media coverage and valuable publicity.

Mr B Dhlamini (IFP) stated that SASCOC was presently crippled with high levels of incompetence and lack of accountability. SASCOC was allowing federations such as the one in question to remain unreformed by maintaining financial support and failing to demand meaningful change. The entire SASCOC structure should be re-evaluated to determine which bodies could receive continued support and which federations were hindering transformation.

Ms W Makgate (ANC) concurred with previous sentiments that transformation had to include the recognition of skilled individuals and should not be confined to superficial acts.

Ms Ashton confirmed that the horse-related sports code remained highly divided. The sport was characterised by various disciplines and styles. However, the common denominator remained the horse. Many other horse-related groups such as disabled riding were not being introduced into the federation. The federation continued to ignore various styles and disciplines. Many aspects of the equestrian world were being neglected. The media tended to cover only window-dressing events to the detriment of genuine transformation. The traditions of the various disciplines within the equestrian world had to be inculcated in the youth to ensure continuity for future generations. SASCOC had legislation in place to ensure compliance by all affiliated federations.

Mr S Masango (DA) asked whether the Department was sponsoring the equestrian federation and whether any monitoring system was in place to evaluate performance. 

Mr Greg Fredericks (Chief Director, Sport and Recreation SA (SRSA)) responded that the Department had identified 18 priority sports in which equestrian was not included. The sport was regarded as elitist and extremely expensive. However, the Department did make R50 000 available to the federation in the form of a grant.

Ms Ashton declared that the federation had to display a renewed sense of commitment to the sport in terms of accountability to members and adherence to national policy. The federation had to actively ensure the continuation of the sport. Various sports personalities such as Gary Player were playing a significant role in equestrian development but more effort was needed.

The Chairperson concurred that accountability from the leadership of federations was crucial in terms of the development agenda.

Mr Fredericks stated that the notion to limit terms of office of federation office bearers to two terms was a sound idea that would be seriously considered. New blood in federations was urgently required.

The Chairperson acknowledged that sports federations were characterised by “traditional” leadership where individuals occupied positions for life. Such a practice was undemocratic and had to be reformed. Transformation in sports federations had to occur in accordance with national policy. The media had to improve its coverage of transformation and development programmes and not dwell on trivial matters. The media should highlight core issues such as the number of serious injuries occurring in rugby. Newspapers propagated the myth that the government wanted to dominate sporting codes and interfere in in-house matters. Certain sports such as rugby were perceived by particular segments of society as “holy cows” that should not be tampered with in any way. These attitudes tended to be perpetuated by the media.

Professional Soccer League (PSL) submission
Mr Trevor Phillips (Chief Executive Officer) declared that Members had displayed a lack of understanding of conditions in South African football at a previous meeting. Football had the highest support base of all sports in South Africa.  A solid base was needed to drive development. The youth should be allowed a choice to play football at schools where such choice was presently not provided. A common playing style to local soccer had to be inculcated at the junior level. A common coaching policy was needed. The financial situation within the PSL had been dramatically improved over the past two years. The number of professional teams had been reduced to spread available resources. Infrastructure had to be improved to provide a safe and secure environment to stimulate increased crowd participation and generate increased revenue. Lease agreement problems existed with municipalities regarding maintenance of stadia and related matters. A better players union was needed for local professional players and quality criteria had to be installed for the import of foreign players. The system for players’ contracts had to be improved. All football coaches should receive coaching to enhance standards of play.  A Football Development Trust should be established to facilitate increased private sector investment from various sources including international markets. The imposition of First World regulations into a Third World infrastructure context would prove disastrous. Football stadia and facilities had undergone a significant decline in quality over the past ten years. Therefore, much of the Bill’s requirements would be difficult to implement.

Prof Ronnie Schloss (General Manager) provided an account of the discrepancies in facilities of the smaller professional teams and school facilities in the Metros. Many excellent facilities at Model C schools were under-utilised while professional teams had to make do with inferior quality infrastructure. Adequate training facilities were needed to produce quality young players. Presently, two worlds characterised sport in South Africa. Groundspeople had to be properly trained to satisfactorily maintain playing facilities.

Discussion

 

Mr Dhlamini asked whether the presentation was not referring to the Safety in Stadiums Bill.

Mr Frolick claimed that no correlation could be detected between the presentation and the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill.

The Chairperson concurred that the two Bills dealt with separate matters. The Bill in question would seek to improve the performance of the PSL and professional football in general. School children should be able to choose soccer over rugby.

Mr Reid concurred that the submission was not directed at the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill.

The Chairperson asked which section of the Bill referred to the need for first aid clinics and other expensive forms of infrastructure. Service level agreements had to be in place between the Department and the respective federations to govern the transfer of financial resources. The federations would be instructed to comply with good governance and transformation policies. Clause 4 of the Bill sought to provide the Minister with the power to formulate general policy on sport and recreation.

Prof Schloss noted that the PSL wanted to highlight the issue of the provision of facilities in accordance with available funds. Existing facilities such as at schools should be better utilised.

Mr Frolick claimed that the presentation was becoming difficult to endure due to its incompatibility with the Bill under review.

Mr Phillips stated that the relationship between the government and SASCOC was more relevant to the South African Football Association (SAFA). The PSL was responsible for the development of professional soccer in South Africa. The development of soccer in South Africa hinged entirely on the provision of better facilities at the grass roots level. Such facilities had to be generated by resources originating from the professional league.

The Chairperson reminded Members that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between the PSL and the Department regarding the development of school sport. He asked for further detail on the state of school sport four years ago and whether progress had been achieved. Privatisation of sport at the under-17 level had to cease so that the traditions of school football could continue. The commitment of the major professional teams to development initiatives had to be investigated.

Mr Phillips replied that the average age of professional players that started in competitive football was becoming younger. Football provided different objectives for different people in particular the chance to improve their lives. Players should play within a structured environment from 17 years onwards to achieve results. Professional teams were currently involved in minor initiatives at the school level. More attempts could be made to improve the general relationship with local communities. Low levels of support were displayed by local communities to their resident soccer teams. SAFA should implement a training programme for coaches as an urgent requirement. Professional soccer had to generate the necessary income for grassroots development. Gambling proceeds were used in other countries such as Australia to fund world-class infrastructure. Government funding on its own would prove to be inadequate.

Mr Dikgacwi reminded Members that Mr Phillips had started his presentation by referring to high levels of ignorance in the Committee about soccer in South Africa. However, it appeared as though much ignorance resided in the PSL due to their failure to produce the correct presentation. Mr Phillips was in his second term as CEO and he asked what input Mr Phillips had made to soccer in South Africa. The PSL never seemed to make pronouncements on the continued threatened strikes by players. New blood was needed within the PSL.

The Chairperson asked whether the foreign players that were imported into the local league were subjected to a quality check such as a minimum number of international caps. He asked whether a minimum wage prevailed in the professional league.

Mr Phillips declared that South Africa required foreign players in the local league. The number and quality was a moot point. Currently, five foreign players were allowed per club. He felt that three per club would be sufficient. Presently, no quality criteria existed for foreign players imported into the local league. He recommended that foreign players should have a minimum number of international caps to be eligible to play in the local league.

The meeting was adjourned for lunch.

Presentation by the Transformation and Anti-Racism Rugby Committee (TARC)
Mr A Bhorat, Medical Doctor, presented his delegation as Mr L Matsha (Media Manager), Mr L Mzomba (Teacher) and Mr S Janwaru (Teacher). Mr Bhorat began his presentation by giving a definition of the words racism and transformation. He defined what TARC was and the main reason for its formation which was the indifference to racism in rugby. He also presented its objectives. He highlighted that South African rugby was an embarrassment. After 14 years little had changed and no delivery of the 1992 promises had occurred. He provided case studies that showed racism in rugby. The case studies included the racism against the Soweto Rugby Club that only got visits from an Australian Super 14 team. There was also the use of Afrikaans as the official rugby language and racists remarks against black players. He highlighted the shocking levels of racism they encountered on a march to Loftus Versfeld which included reference to kaffirs and that they should ‘report to their black president’.

 

Mr Matsha presented demographics which showed an overall 70% white dominance of rugby. He talked about the current structure of rugby which was autocratic in favour of clubs that owned resources, resistance to change, the transformation charter, the role of the government, ideal outcomes, the way forward and the urgent needs in particular for government intervention. Therefore they supported the Bill.

Discussion
Mr A Mlangeni (ANC) asked why they were using the word “non-white” whilst at the same time condemning racism.

Mr Matsha replied that this was not being used in racist terms and it was definitely not racism in reverse. There were trying to present the demographics and if they were to take the census book of the country they would notice that the same terms are used as well.


Mr L Reid (ANC) noted that the Committee was aware of the issues raised, but he was concerned that the presentation contained an emotional, personal fight between them and the SA Rugby Union (SARU) and did not make any significant contribution on the Bill.


Mr Bhorat replied that although their presentation sounded emotional and angry they supported the Bill as it stood. The intervention by the Minister would serve to protect the rights of individuals against racism in sport and aid transformation.


Mr CT Frolick (ANC) agreed with Mr Reid that the presentation lacked reference to the Bill besides its broad reference to government intervention. He also noted that he got the feeling that there was a fight with the Soweto club that has led to a nationwide movement. He asked what TARC had done to address the issues with SARU.


Mr Bhorat replied that they have tried numerous times to engage with SARU but they have been rebuffed to such an extent that they are now tired and frustrated, and felt there was a need for intervention.


Mr Frolick noted that in relation to the Southern Spears franchise it has been getting special attention from the Minister but there were a lot of things wrong with their leadership which happened to black. The Committee was of the opinion that the management of the Spears was out of touch and they were not going to let an embarrassing team play in the Super 14.
 

Mr DM Dikgacwi (ANC) agreed and said that they were well aware of the allegations against SARU. He suggested that there be a special forum that deals with the issues raised in the presentations.
 

Ms MM Ntuli (ANC) wanted to know if TARC had interacted with SARU.
 

Mr Bhorat replied that they had had a three hour meeting with the SARU President who has not bothered to reply to them since and six weeks have gone by. Their presentation to the Committee was an act of desperation because they realised that rugby would not transform especially with the current mentality of whites.
 

M Matsha added that they had engaged with SARU countless times. He did not believe that rugby could simply be changed and felt it needed a complete overhaul.
 

Mr Frolick remarked that they lacked blueprints for the direction sport was going to take.

Mr Bhorat agreed and said that blueprints were essential but so is looking at the person holding the blueprints. One could not expect change when the people that are racists are in charge of them.

The Chairperson was appalled by the racism in rugby and declared that the time for intervention by the Minister in sport was welcomed and long overdue.

Presentation by the South African Football Association (SAFA)
Mr V Seymour, President, declared that they supported most of the provisions in the bill except the one on intervention. Their concern was that this intervention might conflict with FIFA regulations and he gave examples of countries where FIFA has dealt with government interference which included Egypt, Greece and Zimbabwe among others. They emphasised that South Africa had to “put its best foot forward” in relation to hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup. 

Discussion
The Chairperson commented that most of the previous presenters of SAFA were arrogant and did not accord others the respect they deserved.

Mr Seymour replied that he was not sure of the persons who had presented before him but he assured the Chairperson that most of them were really friendly people.
 
Mr Frolick said that SAFA should understand that even though they are federated to FIFA and had to adhere to its rules they should realise and respect that South Africa is a sovereign state subject to the Constitution and not FIFA. The intervention of the Minister being called for did not mean that the Minister would be appointing and firing people. The intervention would only be at the times when incidents occurred that brought sport into disrepute.

Mr Seymour replied that they did not dispute the sovereignty of the state but the fact of the matter was that they were part of an international community that has rules they have agreed to abide by and these might affect a lot of local issues. He was worried about how they were going to frame laws that would not be in conflict with other federations and FIFA.

Mr Reid said that the misconception was that people think the intervention meant that the Minister will run the federation as well as selecting the teams. He said the reason was to level out the playing field.

Ms Ntuli seconded the above views and said that the Minister was going to intervene and not interfere with the running of the federation.

Mr Seymour replied that he did not disagree with transformation, but was concerned how they would draft rules not in conflict with FIFA and give FIFA the assurance that intervention would not occur in appointments.

Mr BW Dhlamini (IFP) asked for Mr Seymour’s opinion on local service agreements.

Mr Dikgacwi remarked that if he were in SAFA he would also be opposing the Bill because they were well aware that SAFA needed intervention in particular the SAFA President of the Western Cape. He emphasized that they only wanted to help SAFA. 

Mr Seymour agreed that the football/soccer game was currently in disrepute and he acknowledged that if there is any disruption then it should be dealt with accordingly, but in light of the SAFA constitution. He said that Kaizer Chiefs was just recently heavily fined for bringing the game into disrepute. He further said that he fully supported transformation.

The Chairperson asked what the role of the Minister of Sport and Recreation should be.

Mr Seymour replied that according to his personal opinion the Minister should play a supportive and guiding role and deliver on national values.

The Chairperson emphasised that the Committee was not power hungry; they only wanted to give the Minister an opportunity to build the country through sports. Moreover they did not want the situation prevalent in rugby that after 14 years racism was still the order of the day.

The meeting was adjourned.

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