I was unanimously appointed as Vice-President of SAFA on Saturday, 19 September 2020, and immediately shared my concerns as the longest-serving woman on football structures in the country and internationally.
I was an administrator of one of the most successful clubs in the history of South African Football, Mamelodi Sundowns who participated in many CAF Championships.
The concerns which I raised include:
• Pursuing the matter of arbitration, which in my view may be prolonged and costly.
• As a businesswoman, I always believed that the money in football must be used to promote the development of football. I, therefore, requested a consultation on the matter. This consultation with the members of NEC who were present in the meeting on Saturday, 19 September 2020 took place on Monday, 21 September 2020.
• The NEC having deliberated on the matter and having considered my submission agreed that it would be wise to withdraw from the arbitration process and reinstate Ria Ledwaba as Vice-President of SAFA.
• This, however, must in my view not be regarded as my agreeing with or condoning any act of misconduct or turning a blind eye to any wrongdoing.
• The women on the SAFA Executive were insulted, abused, humiliated and even had their lives threatened by people who have made no contribution to the growth of football in our country.
• SAFA is a leader in promoting women in football (Administration, Coaches, Referees, National Team Coaches, promotion of Education and the promotion of our players internationally).
• I have served on the women committees of both CAF and FIFA for many years, promoting the interest of women and both CAF and FIFA are full of praise of SAFA and its leadership’s role in the promotion of women in football.
• Ria Ledwaba sold her club in 2002 and left football.
• After I served on the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee as a Board member, I convinced the NEC to bring Ria back to football in 2013. I am happy that I could convince the NEC then and express my appreciation to the NEC to agree to withdraw from the arbitration and to reinstate Ria Ledwaba.
SAFA CEO, Adv. Tebogo Motlanthe said, “SAFA is happy to endorse the presentation of Natasha Tsichlas and to support it from one of our selfless women leaders who offered to step back from the VP post for Ria Ledwaba to return.
“We want to reiterate that this must not be viewed as condonation of wrong-doing but a response from an internationally recognized woman leader in football.
‘’We further agreed that the money that would have been spent on legal costs is better served to provide our 52 Regions with financial support to further football development.”