Sports minister addresses race row in South African Parliament

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- South Africa's Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour on Tuesday urged an acceleration of the pace of racial transformation of sports in the country.
Balfour, who addressed Parliament on a racism scandal that has rocked the country, called for calm.
With just a month remaining before the Rugby World Cup, the national team is reeling following a series of damaging reports alleging widespread racism within the squad.
The scandal broke two weeks ago when it emerged that there was a confrontation between a white player, Geo Cronje and his black team mate Quinton Davids.
Cronje was expelled from the World Cup training squad after he allegedly refused to share a room with Davids.
Cronje, who was ordered by coach Rudolf Straueli to share a hotel room at a training camp in Pretoria with Davids reportedly refused saying he would not use the same bathroom, toilet or shower as Davids.
Balfour said any South African who believes that racism and prejudice would have disappeared within South African sport as a result of 10 years of unity, must have a very poor understanding of South African society where racism and prejudice dominated the lives of the majority of people.
"We take it for granted that young men and women who have grown up in a certain milieu are able to deal with issues of diversity when they find themselves in a team set-up with people with whom they have never had any contact with in the past," the minister observed.
"Are we really addressing the cardinal issue of preparing our sports people to deal with issues of diversity, tolerance and respect for each other?" he inquired.
Balfour said it was now necessary to give the inquiry into the racism allegations the opportunity to unravel issues that have dominated the public arena in recent days.
"Parallel to this is the need for us to recognise that sports is no different to the rest of society and that if we want to arrest, limit and ultimately eliminate prejudices, we need to put in place programmes and systems to address such issues," he suggested.
"Without wanting to pre-empt any possible findings of the inquiry, we must continue working to promote a transformed sports environment," the minister urged.

09 september 2003 13:46:00

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