SA’s Fifa membership reinstated

222

SAFA Logo

Friday, 3 July 1992

Thirty-one years after being expelled, South Africa had its membership of the Football International Federation Association (Fifa) reinstated on 3 July 1992.

In 1956, the South African government introduced its first racist policy on sport. Previous to this, in keeping with pre-apartheid segregation, leagues had been divided according to race. Now Black-owned football clubs were officially not recognised as equal members with White-owned clubs. Earlier, in May 1955 a Fifa emergency committee had ruled that the South African Football Association (SAFA), representing only the White minority, was not a 'real national association'. A 1956 Fifa commission of inquiry upheld this decision. The Commission of Inquiry accepted however, SAFA's argument that the racial separation of sport was South Africa's 'tradition and custom'.

Fifa's preferred approach was to encourage SAFA to merge with the South African Soccer Federation (SASF), which represented Black football clubs. However, SAFA was determined to maintain its racial policy and exclude all other races from representing South Africa in international sports. SAFA managed to retain its membership of Fifa by renaming itself Football Association of Southern Africa (FASA) and removing all its racial clauses from the constitution. FASA also used co-option to get membership of Black clubs to support its claim that it was a non-racial association.

Direct government intervention to keep racial separation in sports drove Fifa to put more pressure on the South African government by threatening that it would be suspended from the organisation if it does not stop intervening in football. In 1958 more pressure was put on the South African government to deracialise sport but the government remained unmoved by the growing international pressure against apartheid sport. This international hostility was demonstrated when the Brazilian football club Portuguesa withdrew from playing against an all-White South African football Durban team. The South African government had insisted that the Portuguesa team should drop its Black players. The team decided to boycott the game rather than comply with the South African apartheid policies.

In 1959 Fifa issued an ultimatum that the South African football association should end racial discrimination within twelve months. In 1961, South Africa was expelled from Fifa. The Black community and the anti-apartheid movement welcomed the decision. In 1963, South Africa was re-admitted to Fifa but it was expelled once more after proposing to send an all-White national team to play in the England 1964 world cup and a Black national team to play in Mexico 1970 world cup.

South Africa was readmitted to the international soccer body for the second time in July 1992. The reinstatement of South Africa was motivated by the government of South Africa's release of all political prisoners and the open negotiation process of all political parties in South Africa. The other and earlier development, which probably encouraged Fifa to drop its suspension of South Africa, was the opening of a united non-racial South African Football Association (SAFA). In the light of international recognition, the new SAFA organised a post isolation match with the Cameroonian national team. On the 7th of July 1992 South Africa hosted its first international match after international isolation

References:

  1. Alegi, P. (2004). Laduma! Soccer, Politics and Society in South Africa, Pietermaritzburg: University of Kwazulu-Natal Press.
  2. History of South African soccer [Online]. Available at: news24.com/ [accessed 02 July 2010]
  3. Alegi, P.C. 2004. Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, and Politics in South African Football in the 1950s [Online]. Available at: wiserweb.wits.ac.za/ [accessed 02 July 2010]

Last updated : 04-Oct-2011

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.



Donate.