SAFPU MEDIA STATEMENT ON THE STATE OF OUR FOOTBALL

The South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) is the only voice that represents the needs and interest of professional football players in South Africa. Despite the many stumbling blocks placed along our path at the helm being the restructuring of capital to wage an offensive against the working class (players) we have remained focused on our mission to represent the players so that they get fair treatment, respect and remuneration concomitant to their efforts that result in millions going to the team owners.

We have called you to address a number of issues that we have been ceased with since the start of the 2015/2016 National Soccer League (PSL/NFD) in August 2015. We have addressed these matters as they arose, and we will continue to do so going forward. Without wasting time, the presentation will address two issues as follows:

  1. The state of football in South Africa.
  2. The candidature of Tokyo Sexwale for the FIFA Presidency.

 

On the state of football in South Africa, please note the following issues:

  1. Multi-million pay-out to the PSL’s Executive Committee members – the Premier Soccer League is a not-for-profit entity governed through the National Soccer League rules. Not-for-profit does mean an entity cannot make profits.
  2. The PSL is a multi-million rand not-for-profit entity that demonstrates sustainability. There is nothing wrong with this approach, and the PSL must be applauded. However, corporate governance places specific requirements on those exercising fiduciary responsibilities in a transparent, responsible and just manner.
  3. The PSL Executive Committee and the entire Board of Governors have once more demonstrated to the nation that they are in this league for personal enrichment. Surely the pay-out could have gone a long way in helping to establish a comprehensive medical aid for players, pension fund, improve the grant for NFD clubs, and increase the number of clubs in the PSL and NFD from 16 to 20 clubs, bursary fund.
  4. It must also be noted that for the past 3 years, the PSL has withheld the meagre grant of R1 million annually meant for the players via SAFPU for reasons only best known to themselves, yet they pay themselves millions in commissions. This money, SAFPU primarily uses it to fund the education fund for the players. The PSL does not have programmes in place to support the social and economic welfare of the players whose sweat has resulted in the league amassing multi-million rand sponsorship. This practice by the league demonstrate an unjust, non-caring irresponsible corporate citizen. Just like black people who did not matter to the apartheid regime, the players do not matter as far at the PSL and its constituent members (who are the teams) are concerned. We will continue to fight against this injustice as we do not owe our existence to any team owners but players.
  5. Exploitation of players by the PSL and National First Division team owners – it is common knowledge that there are players in the PSL and National First Division who still earn as little as R5000. The case of Roggert Nyundu vs Polokwane City, we all know how much this player was paid – a measly R5000. We are aware of many cases where players are enslaved through unfair contracts by teams against their will. Often than not teams make it difficult for players to take their labour elsewhere where their skills are needed. The case of Lehlohonolo Majoro against Kaiser Chiefs, Siyanda Xulu against Rostov, Sylla Mbemba against Warriors just to mention a few come to mind. Many players continue to find themselves in the same situation as these players, but because the teams ill-treat these players, most of these players suffer in silence because they do not want to lose their jobs. In our view, the teams are practicing modern day slavery and this must come to an end.
  6. Through our global union of professionals’ footballers, FIFPro, we are taking FIFA to court to fight this unjust practices that make the transfer system skewed to the teams. The success of this case will compel SAFA to enforce the changes via the PSL and NFD. Insurance pay-outs to players for death and injury – All professional players are expected (by law) to belong to an insurance. It is common knowledge that the league has complied with this requirement. However it must be said though that the insurance policy as we know it doesn’t not entirely benefit the players. Players are expected to equally share their pay-outs with the clubs (50/50) split. How does one benefit from the death or disability of an employee? This rule is unjust and disadvantages the players at the time of need. It is also unfortunate in that the players can only claim through their clubs, they are at the messy of the clubs, when it comes to registering their claims. The Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi classifies road accidents as one of the 4 pandemics that contribute to death in South Africa. We are aware that a number of players have lost their lives through road accidents. The most recent was Cecil Lolo whose death came in the heels of the death of Richard Henyekane. South Africa is riddled with crime, and it was a shock when we all woke up to the news of the death of Senzo Meyiwa last year. These cases demonstrate that anything can happen to any player, and when that moment strikes, the player must be insured for that eventuality if it happens. The teams have a responsibility to pay for the monthly premiums for the players to the insurance against any calamity that may strike. This does not however make the teams co-insured with the players. It is well known that teams have abused the trust of the players, co-insuring themselves with the players so that should calamity strike, the team is a 50% beneficiary of the pay-out. This is immoral and further demonstrates the exploitative nature of the teams. This practice must end by the PSL as it is cheating the players and the players’ families (in the case of deaths and /or disability) of funds that are due to them. Importantly the players must be given the share of the broadcasting rights so they can administer their own insurance.
  7. SAFPU’s position on Intermediaries/ agents of professional football players – The purpose and the objective of this new Intermediaries Regulations are to create a more simple and transparent system of regulation of football agents. The new FIFA Regulations enable every national football association (in this instance SAFA) to regulate their own system on players’ intermediaries, provided they respect the compulsory minimum requirements. It is important that better control is being exercised over the relationship of agent / player and/or agent / club and that the rights of players are properly protected. SAFPU therefore welcome the implementation of the FIFA Regulations on working with intermediaries with a cap of 3% Commission to be paid to the intermediary. Without a proper regulatory body for intermediaries and regulations setting the boundaries, the rights of player will be infringed. We implore SAFA to ensure implementation of the rules once the decision of its NEC have been made after the recent presentations made by various stakeholders to SAFA. We hope that SAFA will rise to the occasion in ensuring that they meet the deadline of March 2015 to provide a list of credible intermediaries.
  8. The need to change and better regulate the transfer of players – In September 2015, FIFPro has filed legal action against FIFA, in the form of a competition law complaint lodged with the Directorate General Competition of the European Commission in Brussels, challenging the global transfer market system governed by FIFA’s regulations as being anti-competitive, unjustified and illegal. SAFPU fully supports this stance by FIFPro as it will help in creating a better league in South Africa. By targeting FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP), FIFPro has asked the European Commission to explore the critical argument that the transfer regulations prevent clubs from fairly competing on the market to acquire sporting talent, harming the interests of players, small and medium sized professional teams and their supporters. According to FIFPro and by extension SAFPU, we believe that FIFA fails to administer professional football the same way it has failed to govern itself. Commercial interests of a few prevail, while the majority of players and clubs are disadvantaged. It is time the rule of law prevails over the interests of cartels. The ones benefiting from this are few – major clubs, agents and third party owners. The ones undermined are many and we now call for change. FIFPro’s legal action against FIFA is designed to stabilize a football industry in order to:

 

  • Create the highest possible number of quality jobs for players based on a sustainable and resilient industry that embraces integrity, greater levels of financial solidarity, competition and enhanced individual and collective labour relations.
  • Ensure that the right of any worker to receive his salary is honoured, a basic right so often abused in world football.
  • Ensures reciprocity of rights and obligations by both clubs and players, for the breach or termination of a contract.

Twenty years on, since the Bosman case, FIFPro has broadened its scope to expose a recreated and equally restrictive transfer market established via a severe imbalance in the regulations. SAFPU’s programmes to support the welfare and development of the members (players) – SAFPU has recognized that with no commitment from the PSL to support the welfare of the players, something needed to be done by the union itself. It is within this context that we have embarked on financial literacy project to help the players with their financial literacy needs.

We had partnered with Liberty to roll out financial literacy project and upon expiry of this agreement, we partnered with Old Mutual. The programme has been well received by the players. SAFPU has developed educational fund, despite the league withholding players’ grant, where it is providing bursaries for the players to further their studies. This is our first year, and we have supported just over 20 players who have received bursaries that they are using to pursue studies and various higher education institutions. Cases for players won do date – Reforming the PSL DRC to be seen to be just is our primary purpose. It is important that we as players’ union protect the interest and rights of our members and all footballers in South Africa.

South African football is seen as the leader of football in Africa and it is sad that a country such as South Africa, who hosted the 2010 World Cup Soccer tournament, is still not in compliance with the FIFA circulars 1010 and 1129 with reference to NDRC. SAFA’S obligations as member of FIFA are set out in the FIFA Status Article 13 . Not only is SAFA responsible that its own Dispute Resolution Processes are in compliance with the FIFA minimum requirements, SAFA is furthermore responsible that its members (with specific reference to the NSL) are in compliance with the FIFA minimum requirements with reference to NDRC. Whilst we push for the reforms of the DRC at both SAFA and PSL, we have been hard at work attending to cases that affect our members. Amongst the case we have won the following:

  • Mfundo Shumana vs Chippa United
  • Kyle Davies vs Royal Eales
  • Chistiaan Ombolo vs Jomo Cosmos
  • Thulani Lubisi vs Jomo Cosmo

Whilst we have won the cases above, the club is yet to pay the player and the PSL is failing to enforce compliance by the team.

Lucky Khune, Enva vs Chippa United, Siyanda Xulu vs Rostov, got the clearance, outstanding payables. Davis Nkausu vs Celtics, Sylla Mbemba vs Warriors, Waseem Isaacs vs Milano, Brenden Wardle vs PSL ,DELPHISURE. In recent weeks, we have won further cases, and these are for:

  • Thabo Mangalo vs Black Leopards, Fikru Lemassa vs Milano United. The unforgiving under 23 rule contribution to massive unemployment and underdevelopment – SAFA has allowed the PSL to introduce the under 23 rule without properly applying their minds to this rule. Today as we speak, this rule which we have fought and continue to fight that it should be scrapped, has resulted in the unemployment of many over 23 year old players in the NFD be design of the teams. An example is Moroka Swallows, who after being relegated last year, have lost almost all their players over 23 years from the PSL.

SAFA as the custodian of football has let this rule to pass and be included in the PSL Handbook for 2015/2016. We have raised this matter with SAFA, and we have unequivocally stated to the association that this rule must come to an end.

Issued by the South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe, General Secretary.

Why SAFPU Does Not Support The FIFA Candidature of Tokyo Sexwale

With regards to the candidature of Mr. Mosima, Gabriel “Tokyo” Sexwale for the FIFA Presidency, we want you to understand our position as outlined below:

  • SAFPU is a member of FIFPro, an international union of professional footballers. As footballers, we owe it to ourselves to represent the interests of our members and speak in solidarity with fellow players all over the world. The election of the FIFA President currently is the realm of the suits who vote as the representatives of the associations. It is common knowledge that these suits treat players as commodities who are only good in making associations look through their performance in the field of play, but whose voices are only good to be ignored.
  • We respect Mr. Mosima Gabriel “Tokyo” Sexwale. He has served this country as a freedom fighter. He was there when Chris Hani died. He cried to demonstrate the magnitude of the loss of Chris Hani. He served as a Premier of Gauteng with distinction. He went to business and demonstrated his business acumen. As a Trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Tokyo has demonstrated leadership learned from lessons imbibed from Mandela. When it was not fashionable, Tokyo kick started the process to build a strong National First Division through sponsoring this division which at the time was called the Mvela League. In recent times, FIFA roped him to be a mediator in the Palestine and Israel through using football as a platform for peace. FIFA has also mandated him to be part of the leaders of the SHOW RACISM THE RED CARD campaign. All of these issues and more, demonstrate that Tokyo Sexwale is not a light weight. He is a man of substance, hence he has been confirmed as one of the 5 final candidates to stand for the FIFA Presidency. In this regard, we wish him all the best in his quest to lead FIFA.
  • Whilst we have said Tokyo is a not a light weight, we remain convinced that he is not a balanced candidate who will deliver what we need as footballers globally. Football is about footballers, before it is about the associations and the suits who run these association for their personal gain. Tokyo Sexwale, a candidate sponsored by the South African Football Association (SAFA), is no different from those at SAFA who support him. The decision was not informed by the needs and interest of the players, because no consultation and engagement with SAFPU has taken place on the candidature of Mr. Sexwale.
  • On 18 September 2015, FIFPro filed a competition law complaint against FIFA, challenging the global transfer market system. On behalf of all of us as followers, FIFPro has thereby taken an important step to reform the unfortunate realities faced by many of our members on the football labour market and stood up to safeguard the positive development of football. As SAFPU we fully support this move by FIFPro. We know that Mr. Sexwale and SAFA are opposed to this move because they have not aligned themselves and declared their support in private or in public for this just cause that FIFPro is fighting on behalf of all the players.
  • To date, we don’t know what Mr. Sexwale stands for because he has not engaged us as SAFPU on what reforms he is proposing. For us, before Mr. Sexwale can ascend to the global pedestal that is the FIFA Presidency, we will advise him to start at home and get SAFA in working order. As SAFPU, we are on record that whilst we enjoy cordial relations with SAFA, we are very unhappy with them because they operate their association in ways that are not consistent with the statutes of FIFA, for example:

 

  • SAFA is not compliant with the FIFA rules, especially circular 10.10 & 11.29 that speak about how a Dispute Resolution Chamber should be constituted. This non-compliance by SAFA has led to the PSL DRC being a “kangaroo court” formed to mete out injustice to the players (The Prince Hlela matter). The FIFA DRC ruling on the matter of Fikru Lemassa vs Milano FC puts into perspective this malaise that is existing because the custodian of football, SAFA has been sleeping on the job as the arbiter and enforcer of the FIFA rules. The SAFA Appeals Committee in the matter between Thabo Mongalo vs Black Leopards FC, the Appeals Committee in finding in favour of Mongalo shreds the miscarriage of justice that happens at the PSL DRC.

Currently, SAFPU does not have a Collective Bargaining Agreement with SAFA. We have been negotiating with various SAFA leadership since our formation in 1997. It is a disgrace that this association has nominated Mr Sexwale to lead FIFA when they can’t even comply with simple requirements of a properly constituted NDRC. It is impossible to lead football globally when you can’t lead at home. Our considered view is that Mr. Sexwale must do the honourable thing – he must withdraw his candidature because his sponsor, SAFA is in a mess and does not comply with FIFA statutes. FIFA is challenged, and it requires somebody who has a plan that will balance the needs and interests of the suits with those of the players. Mr. Mosima Gabriel “Tokyo” Sexwale should rather start with leading SAFA, and once he has demonstrated his capability of leading in football, only then can he consider the FIFA Presidency in the future