In the height of the African American civil rights movement, the late Martin Luther King Jr issued this prophetic statement: “If we don’t find it within ourselves to live together as brothers, then we might as well perish together as fools!”
I was sharply reminded of those sage words this week as football administrators engaged in actions akin to pushing a self-destruct button that could either derail the entire process of resuming action or forcing the league to be completely called off.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) have never been the best of friends. Their inability to work harmoniously together, except a year prior to the staging of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, is well documented.
There is a court case brought by the PSL against SAFA pending which arose from sponsorship acquired by SAFA to supply kit for referees by an insurance company.
Who can forget former national coach Pitso Mosimane who was left high and dry at the OR Tambo International airport enroute to Dar es Saalm for a friendly against Tanzania after players that he had selected were yanked out of the plane by their clubs?
Or David Notoane arriving in Cairo with an embarrassingly depleted squad of only 13 players for the U-23 tournament, because clubs refused to release their players?
We are facing a relentless adversary and we need leaders that could steer football onto a safer path where there are no floating germs to contaminate our fragile systems, yet the leaders appear hellbent on exchanging crude over-the-top tackles to maim each other.
At a time when I thought they had finally found each other; that they had heeded Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s instructions to stop their childish bickering and work towards a single goal of speaking with one voice, their fragile truce appears on the brink of falling apart and breaking into a tiny million pieces.
Minister Mthethwa spelt it out loud and clear that SAFA must oversee the safe return of football by implementing all necessary protocols and ensure all clubs adhered to the measures required before a single football could be kicked.
But the PSL in my view, dropped the ball and raised the middle finger to the Minister as they appeared to unilaterally give clubs the all-clear to return to group training and to be ready to resume action next weekend which left SAFA flabbergasted and stupefied.
Perhaps to prove to SAFA that they are the capo di tutti capo, the PSL further appointed their own protocol and Compliance Officer – Michael Murphy – in defiance of SAFA who had appointed Dr Thulani Ngwenya as the Compliance Officer.
The appointment of Murphy clearly indicated that the PSL wanted to be player and referee at the same time. Otherwise how do you see Dr Ngwenya enforcing compliance when his position has been usurped and clubs have been informed that Murphy is the go-to-guy?
And, unless my fading memory is serving me well, I seem to recall Minister Mthethwa specifically instructing the two organizations that the ball stops with SAFA who would be liable and responsible for the safe return of football.
For heaven’s sake, people are dying, the invincible enemy has turned Gauteng into an epicenter and the number of infections has reached alarming if not crisis proportions and no leader worth his salt should fiddle while the country is burning.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a bank manager, singing sensation, boss of the underworld or a famous football star, this virus goes about its deadly swathe of destruction without discrimination and is annihilating its victims with gay abandon.
I wish the two could stop this endless bickering and acting like Tom and Jerry. They know what needs to be done and yet for some strange reasons appear obsessed with flexing their muscles against each other seemingly to prove who wields more power.
I believe they can do it, otherwise if they don’t, like Martin Luther King Jr warned, we will perish together as fools!