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COMMENT: Poor administration can bring African football down to its knees

16:52 GMT+3 06/07/2018
Dr Irvin Khoza July 6 2018
If administrators do their job properly, African football can reach its true potential, but failure to do that can bring the sport to its knees


In the wake of the South Gauteng High Court judgment that set aside Advocate William Mokhari SC's ruling to dock Ajax Cape Town points for fielding Tendai Ndoro, South African football finds itself in tatters as no one, including the PSL, knows how this saga is going to end. 

Ajax were relegated to the National First Division after they were found guilty of fielding the Zimbabwe forward, who had played for two other clubs - Orlando Pirates and Al Faisaly of Saudi Arabia - prior to moving to Cape Town. 

This was certainly an administration mistake on the side of the PSL and Ajax, as both parties failed to read the rules, but now other clubs who had nothing to do with the matter are affected as the league is still trying to come up with possible solutions. 

Given how smooth the South African league has been operating over the years, very few expected it to experience what other African countries such as Ghana and Kenya went through in recent seasons because of similar mistakes from football administrators.

Football has its rules, as stipulated by Fifa, and it's up to the leagues and football associations to enforce them. Failure to do so will always result in the chaos we have seen across the continent in the past, and this continues to tarnish the image of African football. 

In Ghana, Great Olympics' protests against Elmina Sharks and Bechem United were brushed aside by the league.

At the time, Great Olympics accused the two teams of using ineligible players against them, and soon after their relegation, they went to court to seek an injunction on the commencement of the league. 

This left many stakeholders threatened, including the players whose futures were now uncertain, and while the league eventually got underway after Great Olympics lost the case on appeal, it was yet another example of controversial African football administration. 

The messy situation delayed the start of the league for almost two months, and it set a bad precedent. It's a worryingly concerning scenario that's threatening to playing out, albeit in slightly different terms, in South Africa

For Ghana, one could say it has become the norm that teams would contest their relegation to the lower division almost every year, but our African administrators need to put an end to it because football contributes hugely to the ecomony. 

Not so long ago, SuperSport TV pulled the plug on a multi-million shilling sponsorship deal with the Kenyan Premier League owing to a breach of licence agreement following a decision to increase teams in the elite league without proper consultation. 

At the time, the issue was between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and KPL over the expansion of the league which eventually ended up in court.

Perhaps the KPL knew that they were running the risk of losing several sponsorship deals, and Fifa had to intervene, throwing their weight behind FKF, advising them to take over the league and increase the teams to 18. 

This nearly brought the Kenyan Premier League to its knees as it had to survive on a tight budget. Decisions taken in board rooms or in a court of law can have severe consequences on the teams, the players and, most importantly, the fans. 

The issue of Ajax Cape Town and the PSL will eventually go away, but it will leave deep scars in the South African football, because no one wants to accept the blame. Perhaps it's time for Fifa to intervene as per the South Gauteng High Court judgement. 

On Thursday, the PSL confirmed that it would appeal the judgement subject to approval from its Board of Convenors which sits next week, and if they do, this Ndoro saga is likely to go on for months. Those who have invested in the league would lose money if the new season doesn't commence in August as the PSL has already said.  

The resumption of the Caf Champions League is around the corner, while the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign is also on the horizon, and if the South African league doesn't start on time, this matter, which should have been resolved a long time ago, will end up affecting Bafana Bafana's preparations as well. 

South African teams have recently upped their game in Caf competitions, but their lack of preparation due to inactivity could impact them negatively, especially Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, who have made it clear that they are willing to go all out in continental competitions.   

If South African teams don't do well in African competitions, then that may affect Bafana Bafana's chances of competing against other African countries, especially in tournaments such as the Afcon, Chan and Cosafa. It will surely impact their hopes of making the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The PSL is too reliant on the sponsors and partners that continue to pump money into the league to threaten them, as happened in Kenya. Whichever decision is taken cannot overlook this critical relationship.

However, the question that remains on everyone's lips as we await this matter to come to its finality is whether or not the PSL continues to pay Ajax Cape Town their monthly grant. If not, then they will again be in contravention with the court's judgment which simply reinstated the Ikamva-based outfit to the elite league.  

Finally, football matters don't need to be decided by courts - our administrators both from the leagues and clubs must always come to the party to ensure the success of African football as a whole.