Columnists 15.3.2017 12:03 pm

Don’t think the Durban fiasco doesn’t affect Saru’s World Cup bid

Mark Alexander, Saru president ... and Durban 2022 bid committee chair.  Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images.

Mark Alexander, Saru president ... and Durban 2022 bid committee chair. Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images.

Saru’s World Cup bid is being assessed. Its president was the 2022 bid committee chair and is struggling for cash. This could get awkward.

Despite the hyperbole that followed, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were right in rejoicing that Durban lost its hosting rights for 2022’s Commonwealth Games.

It’s pretty useless, non-symbolic event if you ask me.

More importantly, it’s miraculously saved us from spending R 8.8 billion on infrastructure and operational costs.

That’s not a figure to be sneezed at in these austere times.

Yet should we really be happy about this?

Also read: Government on Games debacle: ‘We’re not a vacuum cleaner’

Ironically, no.

We already know R118 million was spent on the, well, non-bid and already has the Democratic Alliance (DA) foaming at the mouth.

Yes, it’s undoubtedly money wasted but it’s also one of those unavoidable realities of doing business in the modern world.

Think of it as having to pay border officials in Africa a bribe to get into the country.

It’s not supposed to work like that but there’s also little leeway to approach the matter differently.

World Rugby, the international federation, is in South Africa this week to assess our bid for 2023’s World Cup and is meeting sport minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday.

What awkward timing given the Durban debacle.

Anyway, like the Commonwealth Games the South African Rugby Union (Saru) needs government to underwrite the costs of the event, should its bid be successful.

Part of that includes a “fee” of R2 billion to World Rugby – essentially a bigger R118 million.

This is the way the world works, it’s greasy palms all the way.

It’s probably counterproductive then to complain about the wasted amount on the Commonwealth Games but we can demand what happens to the R4.32 billion that was approved by Cabinet.

Is that a budget item that can be re-allocated somewhere else or even be used for Saru’s bid?

It would make sense.

But don’t bank on Saru’s bid actually being any more stable than Sascoc’s for Durban.

Firstly, we don’t know if government officially supports the bid unconditionally.

Remember, Mbalula banned five local federations, including Saru, from hosting international events due to them missing transformation targets.

Secondly, Saru is an organisation in crisis.

It’s experiencing a cash crunch because it can’t find a headline sponsor for the underachieving Springboks.

Millions is spent on national contracts to keep top players in the country and Saru also needs to wholly fund the Kings in Super Rugby because its union is bankrupt.

Jurie Roux, Saru’s CEO, is also currently embroiled in a court case with his former employer, Stellenbosch University, regarding the misuse of funds.

And then there are the symbolic factors.

How does this bungle affect future bids?

And how will World Rugby feel about Mark Alexander being Saru president?

Because, oh dear, he was the chairman of the Durban 2022 bid committee.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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