Race integration of black sports players must achieve a quota of sixty percent irrespective of talent according to the South Africa Minister of Sport. This statement was said by Fikile Mbalulu, the South African Sports minister, during a meeting with top sporting representatives regarding the level of integration of blacks into all factors of sport in the post apartheid South Africa.
Mbalulu said South Africa should be ashamed with the fundamental fault lines in the society. He said the percentage of black people in sports had fallen behind the rate of improving the generic representation. He said the sport transformation remained a difficult one in the post apartheid South Africa and that he could not understand why. Mbalulu condemned the current basic sport infrastructure as not being available to people living in poverty.
Mbalulu wants a 60 – 40 sports quota system to be implemented and enforced in order to incorporate black players. During his speech, there was a threat to withdraw funding from teams who did not comply with the integration system.
The minister of sport wants South Africa to focus on and live Martin Luther’s vision of participation of both black and white children sharing a football pitch and basketball court. He said the majority of young people in South Africa who dream of wanting to participate in international sport were not given the opportunity and the government owes this generation the benefit of participating in sporting facilities.
A transformation status report for 2013 described a lack of implementation of the 50 -50 quota system during that period. Within the most popular sports, cricket, rugby, athletics, football and netball a lack of willingness to implement the quota remained hindered. Mbalulu said raising the quota system to sixty percent would improve the opportunities of the younger generation. Players, including coaches, umpires, managers and referees are to form part of the new required amount.
Adamant about the new quotas to be implemented, Mbalulu said withdrawal of funding and support to federations and sports bodies would stop if not adhered to. He said the removal of national colors of any federation who did not comply with the new intentions would see this happen. The sports minister’s office would withdraw funding to those that remained opposed to transforming the quotas. He said federations or sports bodies wanting to bid or host sporting events would be illegal and without government approval until the right 60-40 quota was reached.
This new requirement comes into effect immediately and it recommends that sports bodies engage and advise managers to implement the new requirement. Mbalulu said his office will be demanding development plans from the Rugby Union, the Cricket Association and the netball and athletics association as a matter of urgency. He urged for a meeting to implement the new plan before the May 2014 elections and a new government administration.
During the meeting, the Minister of Sport was asked about possible resistance from sponsors and he replied that he had not heard any complaints about the required new quota. He said he would deal with this problem if and when it arises. He also agreed the transformation would not be easy and has recommended his staff to engage with the private sector who remains the biggest investors in general.
The South Africa Rugby Union representative Andy Colquhoun said there was still a lot that needed to be understood. Cricket South Africa is waiting for a meeting with the Sports Minister to explain the pilot study on transformation. No comment was forthcoming.
Lions cricket coach Geoff Toyana said cricket South Africa was heading in the right direction, and that there have been black batsmen and bowlers brought into the cricket fold. He said this did not make sense and said the transformation should be about giving all players quality opportunities. The Lions have done exactly that, and the players have never disgraced themselves. He was willing to support this discharge.
The new quota implementation by the Sports minister is to balance the slow progress of racial transformation within the South African sports teams. What matters most is whether talent will now be sidestepped to achieve the 60 – 40 racial quota.
Public comments called this move biased and illegal. International sporting regulations prohibit discrimination and government intervention in sport. The rage among athletes and sports fans across South Africa have indicated that race based quotas will not help with the development of new players. Implementing the 60 – 40 quota of the South Africa sport structure might compromise the quality. Talent versus race integration will be a condition to favor one group over the other.
By Laura Oneale