Milutin Sredojevic (Gallo Images)
- SAFA must “keep the same energy” towards twice sexual assault-accused ‘Micho’ Sredojevic as they did with racist coach Luc Eymael and ban the Serb.
- SAFA opposed Eymael’s appointment to Chippa United in December after the Belgian made racist comments towards Tanzanian football supporters.
- In November, the PSL announced a partnership with Carling Black Label aimed at raising awareness against GBV dubbed #NoExcuse.
To borrow a popular culture phrase from the cool kids, the South African Football Association (SAFA) must “keep the same energy” towards twice sexual assault-accused Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic as they did with racist coach Luc Eymael.
Eymael was in line to take up a post at Chippa United on the eve of Christmas last year following Lehlohonolo Seema’s axing but owner Chippa Mpengesi did a U-turn after the move was heavily criticised.
Instead, Dan “Dance” Malesela was reappointed as Chippa United coach.
SAFA issued a scathing statement after it learnt that Eymael – who made racist comments calling supporters of Tanzanian club Young Africans FC “monkeys and dogs”, for which he was fired – was set to take over at the Port Elizabeth-based Premier Soccer League (PSL) club.
“SAFA will immediately be writing to the Minister of Home Affairs to express its objection to the granting of a work permit for him,” said SAFA’s statement in December.
“We will also request the Ethics Committees of FIFA and SAFA to charge Mr Eymael as his despicable conduct is a violation of the codes of both bodies.”
The pressure on Mpengesi to overturn his half-witted appointment was also ramped up by the Eastern Cape Provincial Government.
“We don’t think a football club playing in our Professional Soccer League and a club that is financially supported by the municipalities of the Eastern Cape government should be coached by an unrepentant racist spewing offensive and derogatory statements about other human beings,” was how the Eastern Cape government responded to the Eymael news.
However, days prior to the uproar caused by the now-cancelled Belgian’s appointment as Chilli Boys coach, it emerged that Sredojevic was released on bail on a sexual assault charge.
The Serbian, who now coaches the Zambian national team, was in South Africa for the 2020 Cosafa Under-20 Championship, which took place in Port Elizabeth.
It was alleged that Sredojevic sexually assaulted a 39-year-old lady delivering coffee to him at Wolfson Stadium, where he apparently pointed to his privates after being offered sugar for his beverage.
He was subsequently released on R10 000 bail at the New Brighton Magistrate’s Court.
It’s the second time Sredojevic has been accused of disgraceful sexual assault conduct.
In his last incarnation as Orlando Pirates head coach, Sredojevic left the post suddenly in August 2019 allegedly because of similar nefarious activities.
News reports were that he tried to force himself onto a hotel staff member where the Buccaneers were camping in Illovo, Johannesburg.
He later called the reports “nonsense”.
But while the latter of the two incidents indicting Sredojevic is still under legal consideration (his next court appearance is on 25 February), there is a clear pattern regarding the 51-year-old Serb.
It shows his complete and utter disregard for the law in this country, especially as it pertains to the protection of women’s rights.
In November last year, the SAFA’s affiliate, the PSL, announced a partnership with beer company Carling Black Label aimed at raising awareness over gender-based violence (GBV) dubbed #NoExcuse.
It would have been a marked statement, then, if SAFA or the PSL had issued a statement condemning Sredojevic’s actions and issuing a countrywide moratorium against his future appointments into the country’s teams.
The way SAFA were so swift to act against the announcement or Eymael’s appointment at Chippa suggested football governors understand the power of their word and their influence.
In many ways the move must be applauded, considering the sensitivity of race matters in this country.
However, in the same breath, a staunch stance against Sredojevic would go quite some way in demonstrating a zero-tolerance policy against individuals accused of sexual misconduct activities.
We all know that HR departments at PSL clubs (and many other African clubs too) have a recycling bin that brings the likes of Sredojevic (who has coached Pirates in two different spells) and Eymael back to the scarce coaching jobs ad infinitum.
It would be prudent to not only raise a banner, tweet or launch a media campaign but to make an example of the Serb.
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