The debate within the portals of SAFA and the PSL has long been whether it would be beneficial for South African soccer to radically change a season format from August to May so that it would fall in line with continental controlling body CAF’s programme from January to November.
So it was no less incredulous than a conjurer pulling a rabbit out of a hat at CAF’s recent executive meeting and symposium in Morocco when the continental controlling body decided to embrace an August-May season as from next year.
The total turnaround, which came out of the blue, reflected the overall increased clout of the Southern African region within CAF since the dumping of autocratic Issa Hayatou as president after 29 years and his replacement by Madagascar’s more accommodating Ahmad Ahmad.
But more significantly, perhaps, the stunning reversal was the brainchild of SAFA president and newly elected CAF executive member, Danny Jordaan, in what was a coup of sorts – with icing added to the administrative cake through the increase from 2019 of the number of teams for the African Nations Finals from 16 to 24 and switching the event from July-February to the June-July period.
And further increasing what was an all-round revision of rules which provided benefits for South African interests was a revised proviso whereby the PSL’s representation of teams in the Champions League would be increased from two to four.
An affluent, but paradoxically and figuratively poor relation within CAF in the past, the new rules could not have followed a more accommodating line for South Africa had they been penned by SAFA itself.
And if Jordaan’s sortie into politics by trying to combine his duties as SAFA president with those of mayor of Port Elizabeth proved a flop, his entry into the realms of the CAF executive could be termed a triumph.
Asked if Hayatou had played a role in the new rules implemented at the CAF executive meeting in Morocco, the SAFA president replied pointedly: “No. I did not even see him there.”
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