Safa on the brink of collapse

The SA Football Association’s (Safa’s) finances are in tatters, the point where its regions are facing closure owing to non-payment of monthly grants.

Mounting lawsuits – amounting to millions of rands – against Safa are adding insult to injury, and the football association has been left struggling to hang on to its assets.

There was pandemonium at Safa’s headquarters in southern Johannesburg this week when the sheriff of the court arrived to execute an attach-and-remove order on behalf of the federation’s former chief executive, Leslie Sedibe, to recover the legal costs awarded to him by the court.

City Press was reliably told that Sedibe’s lawyer intervened after staff pleaded with the sheriff not to remove office equipment.

“The deal made was that the money owed would be paid over to the lawyer by [last week] Friday, failing which the sheriff will be back on Monday [tomorrow] to attach and remove Safa assets,” said a source who was present at the federation’s offices.

Safa’s reprieve, however, is set to be short-lived. The organisation’s former travel agent, Fli-Afrika Travel, is said to be in the process of securing its own attachment order.

Safa was ordered to pay Fli-Afrika in excess of R30m by the Johannesburg High Court. Fli-Afrika launched a successful appeal on a R13m lawsuit against Safa in an effort to recover money lost on travel packages that were prepared for Safa during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The bleak financial situation at Safa was laid bare in a letter by chief its executive, Dennis Mumble, to regions and associate members of the crumbling football association in May this year. In his letter, Mumble apologised to the regions for his failure to make monthly grant payments to the 52 regional offices in order for them to operate efficiently.

City Press has seen the letter, in which Mumble acknowledges Safa’s non-payment for several months, saying this was owing to “difficulties that we are experiencing in collecting our funds from some of our sponsors”.

He promises to pay “some” of the money to the regions as and when sponsors make payments.

It has also emerged that the federation’s internal audit committee was not invited to present its findings to the board. As things stand, Safa’s audited financials will form part of its annual report to be delivered at its annual general meeting, without the opinion of its audit committee.

Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said there was no financial crisis at the organisation.

“This is a cash flow problem. Broadcasting is our biggest sponsor. The problem is that the SABC is going through financial problems ... It has a ripple effect on everyone,” he said.

He said they were appealing both the Sedibe and the Fli-Afrika court rulings.

“We have appealed the [Fli-Afrika] decision because we are in the right. We have filed papers to that effect.”

Safa’s legal bills are also escalating, currently running into the millions, in their quest to fend off Sedibe’s successful court applications for the football federation to hand over documents it gave to Fifa during the world football body’s investigation into allegations of match-fixing during friendlies played ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Sedibe is in a rush to clear his name after he was banned by Fifa for five years and slapped with a hefty fine for alleged involvement in the match-fixing scandal. The court agreed with Sedibe that he had been prejudiced by both Safa and Fifa during the investigation as he was denied access to the documents used to charge and ban him from all football activities.

He was recently awarded an attachment order of all Fifa trademarks as a way to force the football body to appear in court.

Following a court order for Safa to hand over documents to Sedibe, and allow him to launch an appeal against Fifa’s finding against him last year, a letter from Fifa to Safa president Danny Jordaan emerged, which revealed that extensive documentation had been sent to Zürich, Switzerland, to assist Fifa in the investigation against Sedibe.

In the March 2014 letter to Jordaan, Fifa’s chairperson of the investigatory chamber, Michael Garcia, informs the Safa president of their intended visit to South Africa to conduct interviews as part of the investigation and asks for his help.

“We would very much appreciate your full cooperation in arranging those meetings so that we may establish the facts of the case as expeditiously as possible,” Garcia wrote.

It has since emerged that Sedibe was not called to be interviewed.

Sedibe is said to be preparing a contempt of court submission against Safa for failing to hand over the documents he requested for his review of the Fifa ban against him.

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