Safa plays blame game as it wages war on players’ union in Banyana debacle

Safa plays blame game as it wages war on players’ union in Banyana debacle
Amanda Mthandi of South Africa challenges Nancy Baeletsi of Botswana during an international friendly in Tsakane on 2 July 2023. (Photo: © Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix)

The South African Footballers’ Union was the recipient of a salvo from the South African Football Association for its perceived part in Banyana’s Banyana’s standoff with the custodian of the country’s soccer.

The South African Football Association (Safa) released a strongly worded communique on Monday night denouncing the South African Footballers’ Union (Safpu) for its role in Banyana Banyana’s pre-World Cup debacle.

As it stands, a resolution is yet to be agreed upon between the players of South Africa’s senior women’s side and Safa – with a number of issues raised by the players.  

This is despite the fact that the team is scheduled to depart for their World Cup base in New Zealand in two groups on Wednesday and Thursday.

As it stands, all affected parties are still trying to find common ground. However, instead of providing an update on the discussions, Safa broke its silence on the matter with a statement that cast doubt on the legitimacy of Safpu as an organisation.

This is despite the association acknowledging in the same communique that Safpu is affiliated with the globally recognised players’ union, Fifpro.

Safa CEO Lydia Monyepao at Safa House in Johannesburg on 3 July 2023. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

Nevertheless, Safa took the opportunity to remind the organisation that: “These players have been nurtured and developed through Safa structures. We have produced these teams through our development and investment. And we are proud of their achievements. Fifa, in a Fifa Congress, recognised the progress of Safa in women’s football.” 

Safpu has been the voice of Banyana Banyana in the debacle. And while Botswana were making light work of a makeshift Banyana team on Sunday at Tsakane Stadium, the union was with the players and asking that the nation “reject the squad” in Ekurhuleni that had been hastily assembled by the association.

Burning issues

There were a number of issues preceding the unfortunate scenes in Tsakane, where the makeshift team assembled on the day of the friendly farewell match was trounced 5-0. 

The biggest point of contention between Safa and the World Cup-bound Banyana is a financial one.

World soccer’s governing body Fifa confirmed recently that every player participating in the global showpiece will pocket in excess of R500,000 (at least) for their presence in the tournament.

With each stage of the tournament that a nation navigates, the financial incentive will increase from that initial group-phase fee.   

Coach Desiree Ellis during the friendly against Botswana on 2 July 2023. (Photo: © Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix)

Moreover, unlike previous tournaments, where the respective national associations were paid a lump sum by Fifa and were responsible for player remuneration, this time the mother body will pay the players directly.

Banyana Banyana’s players also want the association to chip in with its own financial incentive from the money that Fifa will pay Safa for the team’s performances at the quadrennial spectacle, over and above the money they will receive from Fifa individually.

Additionally, the players have asked that the guaranteed money from Fifa be included in their contracts before they sign – possibly a sign of their distrust of the association.  

These demands led to Safa’s chief financial officer, Gronie Hluyo, telling News24 that the players’ terms were “unreasonable”, on the basis that they had not given any national team the amount Banyana is set to receive directly from Fifa.

Of course, all of this can’t be good for the psyche of the team heading onto the global massive stage. 

Speaking during the announcement that the men’s side (Bafana Bafana) has a new sponsor on Monday, Safa CEO Lydia Monyepao said it was important that a resolution is found as soon as possible.  

“It’s quite important that we are all on the same page. Because the last thing we want is to get to New Zealand and we are still not agreeing on certain things,” said Monyepao.

“There are amendments they’ve brought forward as far as the contract is concerned. We will engage internally so that we can see if we can come to an agreement.”

With the departure time fast approaching, a resolution is required as soon as possible. DM


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