The South African Football Association (SAFA) is the body that governs football in South Africa. SAFA was founded on 8 December 1991, the culmination of a long unifying process that was to rid the sport in South Africa of all the racial divisions caused by the apartheid system.
Four disparate units came together to form the organisation in Johannesburg, setting South African football on the road to a return to the international arena following years of isolation. The four groups were Football Association of South Africa, the South African Soccer Association, the South African Soccer Federation and the South African National Football Association, who later withdrew from the process only to return again two years later.
Kirsten Nematandani is the incumbent president of SAFA. The administration of the game in South Africa is divided into two branches. SAFA oversees the country's national teams and the amateur game. It also keeps a custodial eye on the sport as the ruling body of football in the country. Its highest profile affiliate is the Premier Soccer League (PSL), under the chairmanship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee chairman, Dr Irvin Khoza. The PSL is responsible for running the country's elite league and the national First Division.
South Africa's PSL runs the professional game with a high degree of autonomy, commanding millions in television, marketing and sponsorship revenues. It also draws massive interest from within the country and, indeed, the southern African region. The PSL provide one of the SAFA's vice-presidents and several members of its Executive Committee.
It is from the ranks of this league, too, that most of the country's stars have been nurtured. Almost every South African international over the last 15 years has begun his career with a club in the PSL.
A game for all
However, the bedrock of the game, like almost everywhere else in the world, is with the amateurs, who fill parks, dusty strips and hillside pitches across the country every day.
In South Africa, there is not the extensive licensing system that is to be found in many European countries and as a result the number of players competing regularly in men's, women's and youth football is not accurately known.
SAFA claims a total of 1.8 million registered players, but the actual number is likely to be more than double that amount. Football has long been the most popular game with the majority of South African citizens, although rugby union was declared as the national sport in the apartheid era.
SAFA is made up of 52 different regional affiliates, cut across the nine provinces of the country (Eastern Cape, Free State, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, the Northern Cape, North West and Western Cap). Each association is entitled to a vote at the annual general meeting. The association also has affiliate members such as women's clubs, university and secondary schools, Futsal teams, coaches and sports medical practitioners' associations.
Three become one in 1991
The South African Football Association's current composition comes in the wake of the unification of three separately racially constituted organisations in 1991. Mluleki George was the first interim president of SAFA. He was followed by professor Lesole Gadinabokao. Solomon Morewa then took over and was later replaced by Molefi Oliphant, who stepped down in September 2009.
The association's executive committee has 24 members drawn from provincial affiliates and from members of the PSL. The third and fourth tiers of South African football are split into regional groups, because of the vast distances across the country. Most clubs in South Africa are owned by rich entrepreneurs in a franchise system and are consequently able to be sold, as is the case in American sport.
It is therefore not uncommon to see, notably at the lower levels, clubs moving from one locale to another and undergoing a complete change of identity.