HOST NATION BATTLE
Safa confident of ability to host next women’s soccer World Cup, despite issues plaguing SA
South Africa’s bid to host the 2027 tournament has taken full flight in recent weeks. However, with all the issues currently plaguing the country, can it host a better event than the other candidates?
South Africa’s audacious bid to host the 2027 Fifa women’s World Cup is gaining momentum and support rapidly. However, the issues currently plaguing the country — such as an unreliable electricity supply, as well as water issues for some regions in the country may prove a stumbling block.
The hosts of a successful 2010 Fifa men’s World Cup face stiff competition. Brazil is one of the countries that have formally expressed their interest to host the showpiece. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have also put a joint bid to host. The US and Mexico are also interested in teaming to host the tournament.
Though these countries also face their own internal challenges, they have financial resources in abundance that would likely help them plaster over their own issues. The South African Football Association (Safa) has a more optimistic view though.
“We are going through difficult times as a country. But we have a choice of whether we succumb to the cynicism and the skepticism that we are all experiencing as a country. Or we have a choice to say we will do what we can to make a meaningful difference and contribution,” chairperson of South Africa’s bid committee Tumi Dlamini told journalists upon her official appointment.
Dlamini — who was officially unveiled as South Africa’s bid committee chair a week ago — is a member of Safa’s Governance Committee and has served in several soccer committees. These include the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Governance Committee and 2010 soccer World Cup Organising Committee.
Her team in the committee will consist of Safa CEO Lydia Monyepao and former acting Safa chief executive Russell Paul. The latter recently served as chief operations officer of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Also part of the team are Caf vice president Kanizat Ibrahim, Fifa council member Isha Johansen and Safa vice president Anastasia Tsichlas. Justice Sisi Khampepe will serve as the independent compliance and ethics officer for the bid.
Dlamini suggested that the fact that a large chunk of their bid rivals had recently hosted major sports events, or were set to host them in the near future, might prove useful for South Africa’s hosting hopes.
“You have to look at who else is bidding for the 2027 women’s World Cup. For instance, the US (Los Angeles) will be hosting the Olympics [in 2028]. It will be hosting the next men’s World Cup, in 2026. There’s a thing called spectator fatigue. There’s a thing called government fatigue for hosting these huge sporting events,” stated Dlamini.
“In South Africa and Africa, the last large-scale Fifa event we hosted was the men’s World Cup in 2010. Similarly, Brazil has hosted the Olympics. Is there still the appetite from Brazil to host another big event so soon? We believe that for these reasons, we as Africa, do have a better chance of winning this bid.”
The bid from South Africa has received widespread support from the bulk of relevant stakeholders to date. These include Africa’s soccer mother body Caf, the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa), as well South Africa’s sports ministry.
“I am very pleased with this update from Safa, and the details around the progress and the work that has been achieved to date,” Minister Kodwa said.
“We support South Africa fully because South Africa is ready. All the infrastructure is ready and we also know that South Africa is capable of bringing the World Cup to our zone in Africa for the second time (after the 2010 men’s tournament),” stated Cosafa president Artur de Almeida e Silva.
Safa has said winning the right to host this tournament will hand tourism in South Africa a much-needed boost, which might in turn spill over to businesses that find themselves crippled by the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the crippling rolling blackouts that followed soon after.
With women’s soccer being one of the fastest-growing sports globally, a World Cup is sure to attract international interest. Next month’s soccer spectacle in Australia and New Zealand is on track to become the most attended standalone women’s sporting event ever — with over one million tickets sold to date.
However, with South Africans feeling the pinch of an extremely tough economic climate, the question is whether there will be a buy-in from the locals as well.
After all, a Hollywoodbets Super League is lucky to be attended by 500 people. Banyana Banyana matches don’t garner as much as eyes as they ought either, even after the team triumphed in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in 2022.
Safa believes a World Cup will inject more interest in women’s soccer in the country.
The official bid documents by the interested parties have to be submitted to Fifa by 8 December 2023. The successful bid will be announced by world soccer’s governing body on 17 May 2024. DM