The History of South African Football - Part 9

Memba Ben By Memba Ben, 21st Jul 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Sports>Football (Soccer)

The ninth part of a series focusing on the history of South African football. In this installment, we focus on the lead up to South Africa's readmission into international football.

Lead up to readmission

While the hooliganism in South African football is more of a periodical scourge, maladministration is still the big headache of South African football.

In 1985, Kaizer Motaung lodged a complaint that argued that the various bodies of the South African National Football Association recieving 10% of revenue generated from a testimonial match for Kaizer Chiefs legend Patrick "Ace" Ntsoelengoe and Orlando Pirates and South African footballing royalty Jomo "The Black Prince" Sono was unfair.
The context of this being that at the time, SANFA was chaired by George Thabe who was also the president of the NPSL so this meant he (or rather his organisations) would be recieving double payments.

Naturally,clubs questioned the conflict of interest for Mr Thabe and fifteen of the sixteen teams within the NPSL petitioned for Thabe to resign as chair of the NPSL. Not wanting to give in, Mr Thabe refused and in turn told the clubs that asked for his resignation to leave the NPSL, to which they did.

With the sponsorship of South African Breweries (now SAB Miller) who were the existing sponsors of the NPSL, the teams formed the National Soccer League (NSL) in 1985.

Football in the country continued to develop but like other things at the time, took a backseat to the politics within the country. But while in the past people protested in a mild manner, this time the violence had increased and threatened to spill over into civil war.

With all the international outrage at the country's state of affairs and the possibility of civil war looming, the Prime Minister of the country at the time ( Mr F.W de Klerk) figured that the only way a crisis could be averted was to negotiate with the ANC.
Mr de Klerk was elected to take charge of the ruling National Party after former Prime Minister P.W Botha and while they seemingly shared the same beliefs on race relations (de Klerks past comments on Apartheid indicate so), de Klerk was a pragmatist whereas Botha was by all indications, unreasonably stubborn.

It goes without saying that Mr de Klerk is not a popular figure in South Africa with nationalist white people believing he "betrayed the white community" by ending the Apartheid system and old time anti -Apartheid activists believing that he is still a racist despite the things he did but it cannot be argued that his decision to release the late great Nelson Mandela on the 11th of February 1990 along with the role he played in ending Apartheid, handling negotiations with Mr Mandela and introducing the right for all adult citizens of any race to vote played a key role in stabilizing the country at such a volatile time.

As far as football was concerned, de Klerk's role in diminishing the Apartheid system meant that previously enforced race laws were phased out and this allowed four footballing bodies (FASA, SASA, SASF, and SANFA) to come together in 1991 and form the South African Football Association (SAFA) with Mluleki George serving as the interim chairman till the appointment of its first president Professor Lesole Gadinabokao in 1992.

The NPSL continued to coexist as an independent league up until its closure in 1995, where the remaining teams within the league decided to join the structures of SAFA, becoming the modern day National First Division whereas the NSL became the Premier Soccer League in 1997 with Manning Rangers (under the tutelage of Gordon Ingesund) winning the inaugural edition.

South Africa's readmission into both CAF and FIFA in 1992 might've been the culmination of a four decade long struggle but the unity presented to the world was only an idyllic pretense to the ruthless in-fighting that began in the days of George Thabe and carried well into the present day.


Football, History, Soccer, South Africa

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author avatar Memba Ben
A fan's view on the business of football.

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