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Op-Ed: Step down, Danny Jordaan

Those who claim there’s nothing wrong with Danny Jordaan having a dual role as mayor and as president of SAFA – and neither of his positions will “suffer” – completely miss the point. It’s against SAFA’s Constitution and goes against FIFA’s code of ethics, and it’s about neutrality and credibility. BY ANTOINETTE MULLER.

In case you have been under a rock for the past week, Danny Jordaan has been appointed as the new Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor. That’s the same Danny Jordaan who is also the president of the South African Football Association. The appointment has raised a few eyebrows, with both the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) calling for him to relinquish his position as SAFA president.

Jordaan, and a number of his supporters, have hit back at all criticisms by saying that he is not paid by SAFA, so it’s all fine and dandy. He also insists that “nothing will suffer” as a result of having two roles. But these statements miss the point and, in fact, ignore the Constitution of both SAFA and FIFA. Now, some will say that FIFA has never been one to care for ethics and have allowed this to happen before, but that is once again, beside the point – the public does not judge associations by FIFA’s actions.

In order for associations to maintain credibility, they must comply with their own as well as FIFA’s law of ethics and constitutions. Considering the troubles SAFA have gone through in recent years, and from which they have started to recover, Jordaan’s dual role would greatly undermine SAFA’s credibility, as they are in direct contravention of their own Constitution and FIFA’s Code of Ethics.

Article 3.1 of the SAFA Constitution says: “SAFA is neutral in matters of politics and religion.” Add to that Article 14 of FIFA’s Code of Ethics, which deals with “Duty of Neutrality” by saying: “In dealings with government institutions, national and international organisations, associations and groupings, persons bound by this Code shall, in addition to observing the basic rules of Art. 13, remain politically neutral, in accordance with the principles and objectives of FIFA, the confederations, associations, leagues and clubs, and generally act in a manner compatible with their function and integrity.”

No matter how you try to spin it, the basic interpretation of the above is that anybody taking up governmental office is a big no-no, even if their role within their association is “just representative”. There are some loopholes, of course, and these loopholes have been misused in the past, but the case for Jordaan is fairly cut and dried. Because the mayoral role that Jordaan has been appointed to is not simply “ceremonial”, it’s a dangerous line. It’s especially dangerous in the lead-up to local elections.

Shadow Sports Minister Solly Malatsi told the Daily Maverick: “It’s clear from reading the SAFA Constitution and FIFA Code of Ethics that by choosing to be politically partisan, deployed for the ANC in PE, Danny Jordaan is compromising the independence of SAFA.

“As a member association of FIFA, SAFA risks sanctions associated with political interference in football by allowing its highest ranking official to be politically partial. There is no way in practice and perception that an organisation that has to be politically neutral, as SAFA must, can achieve that with a president who is deployed in government.”

SAFA has said that the DA is “taking the Constitution out of context” because “SAFA is not Danny Jordaan”, but the point is still that those who are employed by the organisation are governed by its Constitution. Neutrality is the key across the board.

Let’s play a game of “how could the dual role hypothetically have an impact?” What would happen if a decision needed to be made on where a Bafana Bafana friendly were to be hosted? Could Jordaan use his position of influence to sway hosting in favour of Nelson Mandela Bay in order to curry favour with the public? It might be unlikely, but it’s possible. Even if Port Elizabeth won the rights to a friendly completely legitimately in this hypothetical game, separating Jordaan’s ANC and SAFA identity could become tricky. Another hypothetical situation could be, for example, helping businesses in his constituency gain sponsorship at national events.

Of course all these hypotheticals could happen anyway, as card carrying members of political parties do serve on non-executive committees and get away with it. And nepotism is nothing new in South Africa or abroad, but when these members are in governmental office positions, it becomes impossible to declare political neutrality, or for these things to occur without arising suspicion.

In a country where sport and politics mix far more often than they should (but usually in hushed tones, behind closed doors) showing such disregard for a potential red herring is insulting to the public. Sports administrators have a duty to remain neutral at all times. SAFA and Jordaan completely ignoring this duty (and their own Constitutions) is an injustice to the sport and the good work they have done to repair their image after a number of unfortunate scandals. DM

Photo: A file picture dated 08 April 2010 shows Danny Jordaan, the CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (SALOC), during a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Source: Daily Maverick

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