Two newsbits about South Africa and their struggles pre-World Cup.
First, South African national team coach Carlos Alberto Parreira took a swipe at his South African employers on Thursday after failing to secure players called up for an international against Botswana on Saturday.
Parreira called up 18 home-based players for the semi-final of the regional Cosafa Castle Cup in Atteridgeville, near Pretoria, but has had to make six changes to his squad after two clubs refused to release their players.
Major clubs Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows said they would not allow their players to take part as they have a cup match scheduled the same day. (Where are your priorities, people?)
This is despite the South African Football Association having previously asked the Premier Soccer League not to schedule any major games on the same weekend.
"It will be a big shame if the country does not realise where its priorities lie for the next two and a half years," said Parreira, referring to South Africa's hosting of the 2010 World Cup finals.
The Brazilian, who took his native country to the World Cup title in 1994, was brought in by South Africa at the start of the year to build a competitive team for the 2010 tournament.
"South Africa football needs to get it priorities right. I am angry, unhappy and disappointed about this lack of co-operation. These matches are vital for me to identify new talent for the future. There is a matter of principle at stake. I have come here not for the money but for professional work and the challenge. To do well in 2010, we must take advantage of all the international matches we have."
South Africa's FA had asked for the Sept. 28 date for the match against Botswana, hoping to take advantage of the fact the league might be able to switch around League Cup first round fixtures, scheduled for this weekend and next.
It requested clubs with players called up by Parreira be scheduled to play next week, but despite initially agreeing, the league went ahead and scheduled Chiefs and Swallows, who had key players in the squad, on Saturday.
Honestly, what is the South African FA thinking here? Do they want to field a competitive squad for the World Cup? What are the clubs thinking? Is the League Cup really as important as the biggest football tournament on Earth?
Shame on the South African FA for not understanding the impact of their decisions. They’ll rue the day they put their selfish self-interests ahead of the good of the South African game.
In other news, about 1,000 South African workers ended a strike on Thursday at a soccer stadium construction site for the 2010 World Cup, a union official said.
It was the second time in a month that workers at Cape Town's Green Point, one of 10 stadiums being built or refurbished for the 2010 tournament, had walked out.
"We have reached an agreement ... so we are all happy," Joe Brown, national co-ordinator for the Building Construction and Allied Workers' Union (BCAWU), told Reuters by telephone.
The workers went on strike last week to demand better travel benefits. Some threw stones and bricks during the illegal stoppage, injuring a police officer.
Brown said the employers had agreed to provide transport for workers to the site from nearby Cape Town train station and compensate them for past travel costs.
Organizers are under pressure to ensure that stadiums and other preparations are completed on time and have played down the prospect that the country's powerful labor unions could delay or block the effort.
South Africa has experienced a wave of industrial action this year, including a month-long civil servants' strike that brought services at schools and hospitals to a near standstill.
This is a volatile situation that could explode again at any time.
One can certainly understand the workers fighting for their rights. In this case, they have leverage as without the stadiums being built, there won’t be a World Cup.
Good luck to both sides of a hotly contested issue.
(Thanks to Reuters for the information in this article. What would I do without you??)
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