Soccer boss Jordaan hits back at political critics

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

National soccer boss Danny Jordaan yesterday dismissed opposition parties as “desperate” with their calls for him to step down once officially appointed Port Elizabeth mayor.

Danny Jordaan

Danny Jordaan

The ANC last week said Jordaan would replace 83-year-old Benson Fihla as mayor for the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in Port Elizabeth.

Safa spokesman Dominic Chimhavi confirmed shortly after the ANC’s announcement that Jordaan would continue as association president.

The Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters called on Jordaan to resign as Safa president to avoid a possible conflict of interest.

The DA’s sports spokesman and parliamentarian Solly Malatsi said the DA was “concerned that this will compromise the principle of independence that is required for fulfilling his role as an office bearer of Safa”.

He said Safa’s constitution “expressly stipulates ‘Safa is neutral in matters of politics and religion’”.

“The reality is that by occupying both roles in the lead up to the 2016 local government elections, Jordaan will become the most politically partisan sport administrator in the country,” said Malatsi.

“This will, no doubt, be to the detriment of fair and dedicated football administration and should have been considered before Jordaan accepted the mayoralty.”

He added: “It will be curious to see how Dr. Jordaan will deal with this situation which clearly rises to the level of a conflict of interest when his party’s policies clash with those of Safa.”

“Given that he has taken the decision to become a full time politician, Jordaan must do the honourable thing and recuse himself from the presidency of Safa to salvage the political independence of the body.

“Safa cannot be seen to be neutral when its president is a political deployee of the ANC.”

Jordaan yesterday told Weekend Argus that opposition parties needed to “differentiate the association from the individual”.

“Safa’s constitution says that Safa must be neutral in religion and politics. It refers to the organization,” he said.

“Safa can never say you must be Christian or Muslim to play football. It must remain neutral. The individuals in football can belong to any religion.

“Safa’s members can vote for anyone. Its members can be MPs. Safa can never dictate who its members can vote for.”

Jordaan said he had been an ANC MP and member of the ruling party while in sporting leadership roles.

“I was acting president of Safa and its vice-president and also part of the ANC,” he said.

“Let’s be realistic, I was the chief executive of the (Fifa Soccer) World Cup organising committee in South Africa and part of the ANC. Fifa knew that I was part of the ANC.”

Malatsi said they had also written to global soccer body Fifa’s secretary-general Jerome Valcke to “provide clarity on Jordaan’s suitability to retain his presidency of Safa given his deployment to the mayoralty of Port Elizabeth by the ANC”.

He said: “Fifa, as the global controlling body of football, is best placed to determine whether or not he should continue with both roles.”

Jordaan responded: “It’s rubbish. There’s no conflict.”

“This has nothing to do with soccer and Safa. This is politics,” he added.

“They don’t want me to be the mayor because of my profile and influence. It’s got nothing to do with Safa. There are people in the DA who hold office in sports organisations and politics.

“It sounds to me like desperation. Why are they raising this after 25 years of Safa’s existence? Safa has had political leaders as its president before.”

Jordaan pointed out that leading figures in Fifa also held political positions in their countries, saying the “minister of sports in Russia is on the Fifa executive”.

He added: “I’m not the mayor of the metro yet and they are already fighting and breaking the house down.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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