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PSL has a billion reasons to keep smiling

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“We are trying to make sure that with the experiences we are sharing with the Bundesliga, they can assist us in solving that problem”

THE announcement that the Premier Soccer League has reached the R1-billion mark in revenue allowed PSL chairman Irvin Khoza to do some introspection on what the organisation has done right and need to improve on.

Khoza credited tying down most of their sponsors, especially for broadcasting, on the league achieving this milestone – the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.

But even though this is a massive achievement, there are still some niggling issues, like the poor officiating, that have hurt the brand to a point that the Board of Governors asked the South African Football Association (Safa) to have a meeting to discuss the implementation of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Khoza also stressed the need to improve the grassroots structures if the league is to keep up with some of the best in the world. We are on par (with some of the best leagues in the world) in a lot of things,” Khoza said.

“But the most important thing is to fine-tune our pipeline on talent. I was happy to hear when the Bundesliga was talking about the Under-21 league; we call it the reserve league. But there are things that we must streamline in terms of how to segment the scouting of the players and how to cultivate and develop players to make sure that we see them at the end of their maturity date, because some of them get lost in the system, but to also avoid the issues of age (cheating).

“It’s an issue that’s problematic, it’s an issue of economics, and I don’t know who the culprits of that pipeline are. Football age and real age are still a problem, in abundance, in our football.

“We are trying to make sure that with the experiences we are sharing with the Bundesliga, they can assist us in solving that problem.

“It is so exciting for the league to get proper players coming up every season, graduating from the MDC (MultiChoice Diski Challenge) and going to the national teams.

“It is important for people to take the communities along with you when you graduate. We saw what Siya (Kolisi, Springbok captain) did and what the community of Zwide felt for him in his success with the rugby.”

The PSL’s annual meeting last Thursday was attended by Safa’s acting chief executive Gay Mokoena, who has promised to take the request for a meeting to talk about the introduction of VAR to the association. Should that request be accepted, the PSL’s Board of Governors and all 32 clubs would be represented to discuss the matter and come up with a workable solution.

The stumbling block in the introduction of VAR in most African countries is money and technology – something that South Africa and the PSL has in abundance, which is why Khoza believes that the country is ready for VAR.

“If ever it is accepted, fortunately we have plans afoot if ever we get the go ahead to do it,” Khoza said.

“As much as it is debatable, and it’s provocative, I think that it is a necessary thing to have because it also eliminates some of the debate, especially when the league is growing so much and has become attractive as it has.

“We want to avoid people discussing wrong things, instead of looking at the product that’s developing year by year. We want to eliminate human error, if it’s there.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it gets multiplied, but that’s good for football because football is a game of opinions.”