Manuel's Intervention Challenges Poor Sports Management

Cape Times (South Africa), November 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

Manuel's Intervention Challenges Poor Sports Management


Trevor Manuel offside because he dared to challenge the operations of corporate sport in South Africa? No way!

Manuel, the Minister of Finance, like many other South Africans, could take it no more. He could no longer appear to be silent on how football, South Africa's most popular sport and the beautiful game, appeared to be administered in South Africa.

So perhaps he got it a bit "technically wrong" as to who was going to pay the commission. But the point he was making, and the way in which I read it, was for corporates to act responsibly in their business transactions and to understand the ramifications of sponsorship.

Manuel didn't say "Don't sponsor football"; he asked business to assess everything about sponsorship and to be fully aware who gets what out of the deal, such as how much is going to development at grassroots level, club and competitive development, remuneration, and to take into account that sponsorship was being allocated amidst the existence of vast social inequalities in South African society.

Nothing wrong with that surely! Corporate sport in South Africa is fast becoming an empire accountable to a few individual black and white men who assume that the responsibility entrusted to them, to administer these sports in the interests of the South African nation, actually means them becoming richer with financial resources that belong to the nation.

This sick and pathetic state of South African sport has managed to get where it is because the South African sports paradigm suffers from an absence of bold, strong, effective, visionary leadership and corporate sport has been allowed to proceed unchecked and unaccountable to its rightful owners, the South African nation. The financially powerful sports have become a force unto themselves, with little respect for the country's governing sports body, Sascoc, or the government.

As they have watched events unfold over the years, South Africans have become disgusted with developments in corporate sports where individuals, masquerading as sports officials elected by democratic councils, are laying claim to sponsorship commissions as well as exorbitant remunerations, bonuses and expense accounts. …

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