10 July, 2023
The Burden of Leadership –
Orlando Pirates Belong To All
From time to time, we the leadership of Orlando Pirates Football Club find ourselves having to communicate publicly on subjects other than those of football in the field of play. When we do, we do so reluctantly because of our understanding and respect that Orlando Pirates belong to all. Whereas it is easy for those that have taken sides and adopted causes to make calls and demands, we do not enjoy such latitude. Solutions we seek need to be inclusive and arrived at through putting of heads together rather than apart.
We Will Not Hide Behind The Facts
It would be easier to respond by merely stating the facts, but that would be contrary to Orlando Pirates’ values and rich history. The facts are: Orlando Pirates is participating in a pre-season camp organised by a FIFA Match Agent involving numerous clubs from Africa, Asia, Europe and Middle East. Orlando Pirates has no hand in organising the event. In fact, Orlando Pirates needed to fulfil a criteria qualifying us to participate. Orlando Pirates had no liaisons with any participating club or the organisers relating to fixtures. The fixtures were arrived at independently by the organisers. It is an important fact that all the participating clubs are FIFA affiliates regulated by FIFA statutes.
Orlando Pirates’ Values and Rich History
Whereas we could have conveniently resorted to a response limited to the facts about the pre-season camp, it is important given Orlando Pirates’ values and history that the club’s position be known. Orlando Pirates is a socially conscious club that fully understands that it exists for the community and society. Orlando Pirates has a record that includes being banned from using government infrastructure because it formed itself into a non-racial club against the dictates of the apartheid government – the iconic team made up of the change agents: Gert van der Haer, Mannie Davis, Hans Moses, Salthiel Choechoe, Dingaan Phakathi, Abram Mainline Khoza, Ralph Hendriks, Bernard Hartze, Zero Johnson, Rashid Khan, Smiley Moosa, Kaizer Motaung, Percy Moloi and Alan Chiyi; the non-racial Orlando Pirates team refused to participate in the rebel tour organised in defiance of the cultural boycott and sanctioned by the apartheid government; Orlando Pirates leadership had to go into hiding to avoid arrests after refusing to dismantle the non-racial team in defiance of the apartheid government order to do so; Orlando Pirates was in the forefront of the formation of the non-racial soccer league in South Africa well ahead of 1994. The unbanning of political organisation leading up to 1994 was a particularly violence time in South Africa. Orlando Pirates joined forces with its arch-rival Kaizer Chiefs to demonstrate that differences of affiliation need not result in conflict and violence. Today, the Soweto Derby is known for its uniqueness in that the arch-rival club supporters travel together to stadiums, sit together, and return home together to live happily until the next encounter. In the new South Africa Orlando Pirates has initiated and participated in efforts to counter abuse against women and children, xenophobic attacks against other nationals resident in South Africa; during the unprecedented Covid attack on the nation and the world, Orlando Pirates joined forces with Kaizer Chiefs and Multichoice to provide much needed PPEs for frontline workers and the South African National Defence Force and South African Police Service.
The Plight of the Palestinians
As a club that has its roots in a conflict ridden South Africa and has been an active participant in the dismantling of apartheid, Orlando Pirates is naturally conscious of the plight of the Palestinian people. Of the many forces that seek a long overdue solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Orlando Pirates stand with those that believe a path exists for men and women of courage to continue coming together to find a lasting solution that South Africa proved to the world can be found when there is a will and courage.
The Rule of Law
Orlando Pirates’ core functioning is governed by rules. It is to the rules that Orlando Pirates went when confronted with calls to withdraw from playing Maccabi Tel Aviv. There is no cultural boycott or boycott of any form by either the South African government, FIFA or the host country that Orlando Pirates can base its refusal to play against Maccabi Tel Aviv on. Heeding a call from any other body would create a conflict within Orlando Pirates that would undermine the club’s values and history irreparably.