We still want World Cup, say rugby bosses

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Mbalula dropped a bombshell on four major sporting federations on Monday, revoking the privileges of Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa (CSA), Netball South Africa (NSA) and South African Rugby (Saru), to host or bid to stage any major international events in the country because of their failure to meet their transformation targets.

Bidding for the 2023 Rugby World Cup starts next month.

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said Mbalula’s announcement would not affect current international events such as Super Rugby, the Springboks’ Incoming Test Series, the Rugby Championship Test programme or the Cape Town Sevens.

Of the five major sporting federations, Mbalula said only the South African Football Association (Safa) had met its transformation targets.

But still, the minister said he was unhappy about the poor drive to roll out football in former model C and private schools.

Following Mbalula’s announcement in Pretoria, Cricket SA said it needed clarity on exactly what events would be affected by the sanction before commenting further.

Both the president and chief executive of Cricket SA are currently in Dubai for the ICC meetings, which started on Monday.

ASA and NSA too said they needed more time to study the implications of the sanction before responding. The participation of athletes at international events would however not be affected, ASA said.

Mbalula’s decision, effective immediately, is based on the findings of the third Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) on Transformation in Sport for 2014/15. It will be reviewed when he considers the results of the 2016/2017 Transformation Barometer.

Cricket SA said all major ICC events up to 2023 did not affect South Africa, since they were awarded to India, Australia or England. South Africa is, however, due to host an under-19 World Cup and a Women’s ICC qualifier, but these are both at least four years away.

SA Rugby said it would be meeting with Mbalula to understand the implications of his decision on South Africa’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup. The bidding process is only due to be concluded next year. Roux was confident that Mbalula would lift the ban by November when the next reporting of the EPG was due.

Citing moral and strategic imperatives, Mbalula said transformation in the sports was “the right thing to do” considering the grave injustices of the past.

Eighty-four percent of the country’s under-18 population was Black African and 16 percent was white, coloured and Indian.

“To ignore this strategic reality from sustainability perspective alone would be suicidal. Thus the reasons for sport organisations to transform rapidly have not only become compelling but have become fundamental,” Mbalula said.

The EPG scrutinised 19 sport federations, of which the “Big Five” of rugby, football, cricket, netball and athletics had provided data to the EPG Secretariat.

The findings and recommendations were announced last May. The five federations then signed a Memoranda of Agreements (MoA) with the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa last year.

Mbalula said the failure by the respective major sporting federations to meet their own transformation targets had paved the way for him to implement punitive measures. He said he was applying the measures due to the urgent task for the sport sector to “reconstruct the fragmented and deeply discriminatory sport and recreation landscape by establishing a unified sports system that is underpinned by the principles of democracy, equity, transparency, demographic representation, access and increased participation”.

Roux acknowledged shortcomings in reaching transformation targets within the sport of rugby, and said Mbalula’s concerns were understandable.

But, he said, SA Rugby was making strides in addressing the issue.

SA Rugby had achieved 11 out of 13 dimensions agreed with government, he added.

 

Civil rights group AfriForum said it would instruct its legal team to investigate steps to submit complaints to international sports bodies.

“International sports regulations expressly forbids any form of political interference in sport. The minister’s prohibition is nothing more than blackmailing sports bodies into imposing government’s racial ideology of transformation,” said AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel.

Mbalula said he had written to the 14 other sporting federations inviting them to present their barometers and to prepare themselves for signing Memoranda of Agreements with the Department of Sport and Recreation as a matter of urgency.

These federations and sport bodies include basketball, chess, table tennis, softball, volleyball, boxing, hockey, gymnastics, swimming, baseball, rowing, bowls, jukskei and tennis.

Cape Argus


Original source: We still want World Cup, say rugby bosses

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