I’d like to talk about a book I recently finished reading.
The book in question is Sport: Greed and Betrayal by South African sports journalist Graeme Joffe, which and was independently published in March.
Joffe was a prominent sports journalist who made a name for himself after publishing many hard-hitting articles exploring the corrupt underbelly of SA’s various sporting federations.
His revelations got him in a lot of trouble and in 2015, Joffe was forced to flee to the US after numerous threats on his life.
The book itself is a compelling read, a mixture of exposé and memoir that covers a period from 2012 until April 2019.
One thing in particular that stuck with me was Joffe’s discussion on the funding of athletes, or rather the lack thereof.
Here at the GO! & Express, we’ve published a number of articles on athletes young and old whose achievements earned them the honour of representing their province or even country at prestigious sporting events.
Most of these articles contain a similar line: “X is asking for donations in order to attend”.
This always struck me as odd, especially when it was an athlete attending an international event. Surely someone representing their country shouldn’t have to pay out of their own pockets for this?
No, they shouldn’t, but Greed and Betrayal reveals why they have to anyway.
It turns out, and I’m sure this will be a big shock to you all, but that the money meant to fund athletes’ travel and accommodation is often siphoned off by greedy sporting executives to fund themselves instead.
There are many horror stories in the book, including a swim team being forced to sleep on the floor of an airport for two days because they were never booked into a hotel but were still being expected to compete.
It’s revelations like this that make Joffe’s book so engrossing and also so infuriating, even more so when you realise that a lot of the people exposed continue to hold positions of power.
Joffe’s book isn’t perfect by any stretch. For one, it is ridiculously large – about the size of a large school textbook – which makes reading it awkward.
It’s self-published nature is also painfully obvious in the editing, which is in dire need of a good clean-up.
If you can get past all that, though, then you’ll be rewarded with a thrilling excursion through the darkest corners of SA sport that doesn’t hold back, whether it be on shady politicians, corrupt officials or even complicit journalists.