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Friday, February 23, 2024

World Cup: SAFA scores bonuses for Banyana

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This has been quite a week for Women’s Football!


Last week this time, fans would have been eagerly anticipating seeing Banyana Banyana in in action during the send off warm-up match against Botswana. Hopefully, securing a morale-boosting win over opponents who have the ability to spoil the party. This, however, did not happen as contract negotiations were the *real* party spoilers.


It came to light ahead of kick-off last Sunday that the team were unhappy about a number of reasons. They decided not to play until these – mostly financial – issues were solved. The team supported their boycott with claims that the venue was not adequate for African Champions.




A joyous send-off has turned sour

We are all aware by now what ensued. Commentators remarked on an image of Desiree Ellis warming up the make-shift team ahead of kick off because the fitness coach was also not available.


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I do wonder how the coach (a former Banyana Banyana player) must have felt in the midst of all this discontent. I’ll hopefully get those reflections as I plan to chat to her after the World Cup…watch this space.


Unhappiness about the venue, the opposition and financial contract were the key concerns that needed resolution. Banyana also detailed their financial demands which amounts to millions. They demand 50K for wearing the jersey, 400K per player for the group stage and 800K per player should they progress beyond the group stage.



FIFA are rewarding all players in the tournament with $30 000, and that amount increases as teams progress. Furthermore, Football Federations are not obligated to sweeten the deal, and some have said no, like Germany. England are fighting with their FA to add more money but comments from the FA suggest this is not what they plan to do.


This saga was ‘resolved’ when SAFA – through the Sports Ministry – secured funds from the Motsepe Foundation and the Lotto. Reportedly, just under 10 million for the team. A far cry from what they demanded.


Pay disparity has always been a concern and it’s good that that gap is being narrowed.



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Does this advance equity in football?

How does paying a national team millions advance the sport? Are their requisite structures in place to further that goal? What progress has been made? Are there monitoring structures in place to track progress? Why has it taken decades to ‘change’ the SAFA leadership?


Are we still reading the same script ahead of each global tournament?


Banyana have a tough opener against Sweden on the 23rd of July.  This saga I fear has impacted their focus. What should have been a wonderful, joyous send-off has turned sour. And unfortunately the taste lingers.



I mentioned on air this week that all parties involved are culpable, and it has impacted their brand.


Let’s see what happens after the tournament. If this talk of women’s equity in sport will advance. or if it will stay a talking point come the next tournament when a team knowing their limitations demand more money.


The World Cup kicks off on the 20th of July.


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