Israeli lobby groups threaten SA Rugby after Tel Aviv Heat withdrawal

17 Feb, 2023 - 00:02 0 Views
Israeli lobby groups threaten SA Rugby after Tel Aviv Heat withdrawal

eBusiness Weekly

The backlash from Tel Aviv Heat’s forced withdrawal from the Mzansi Challenge at the hands of SA Rugby isn’t subsiding, with the South African Friends of Israel considering a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application if SA Rugby doesn’t explain how they arrived at axing the Israeli side.

The organisation, along with the South Africa Zionist Federation, have taken exception to SA Rugby’s decision to cut Tel Aviv Heat from the tournament, with SAFI giving SA Rugby until Wednesday to furnish them with meeting minutes and the stakeholders that SA Rugby consulted before they came to their decision.

Earlier this month, SA Rugby withdrew the Israeli side from the Mzansi Challenge set to start on March 24.

In a statement, SAFI said they will launch a PAIA application on Thursday morning if SA Rugby doesn’t accede to their request.

SAFI’s reaction follows that of New Zealand-based lawyer Ian Dunwoodie, who laid a complaint with World Rugby in his own capacity with regards to the Heat’s axing from the tournament.

Through their spokesperson Pamela Ngubane, SAFI said it was unfortunate that SA Rugby bowed to political pressure to make what they felt was an incorrect decision.

“Following the ANC’s press statement commending SA Rugby’s decision, SAFI remains concerned that political interference, and alleged death threats from the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, may have contributed to the decision-making process,” Ngubane said.

“It is sad to see that Israel, as the only democracy in the Middle East, is being treated in
this manner by a South African sporting

When News24 contacted SA Rugby president Mark Alexander last week with regards to whether a complaint was laid with World Rugby and why they chose to withdraw the Heat, he said they had security concerns with regards to hosting Heat.

“We haven’t received a complaint, but we read about it. We have been speaking to World Rugby, but we haven’t received a complaint,” Alexander said.

“World Rugby advised us that they’ve seen something, but we gave context to the issue.

“A Rugby is responsible for the safety and security in our tournaments; inclusive of but not limited to the safety and security of our players; visiting international players; their management; coaching staff and the spectators.

“SA Rugby would be wrong to host a visiting team to participate in a tournament where there are perceived and real disruptions to the match and the match schedule as a result of threats to the safety of the people involved.”

SA Rugby’s decision to withdraw the Heat was supported by the ruling African National Congress and the Department of Sports, Arts, and Recreation, something that raised the ire of the SAZF.

The SAZF is in support of the SAFI’s decision, saying in a statement that they need to get clarity from SA Rugby as to who was involved in the decision to withdraw Heat from the tournament.

“What is evidently clear is that a number of civil society organisations and rugby stakeholders were never consulted by SARU in their decision-making,” said SAZF national chairperson Rowan Polovin.

“SAFI’s move to submit a PAIA application will help provide us all with an indication of who was involved in this decision-making process, and if SARU allowed ANC politics and the anti-Semitic BDS agenda to define who is welcome to participate in sporting events in our beautiful country.” — news24

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