FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
Banyana Banyana jet off to Down Under after cash injection from Motsepe Foundation
Banyana Banyana are ready for the World Cup following last-minute moves by the Motsepe Foundation to ensure their financial needs are satisfied.
It took a last-minute intervention from South African businessman Patrice Motsepe, through his Motsepe Foundation, to resolve a rift that had rumbled and raged on for days between the South African Football Association (Safa) and Banyana Banyana’s World Cup-bound squad.
With their financial demands met, the team can now focus on the task at hand: attempting to progress from the group stage for the first time in just their second Fifa World Cup appearance, following their debut appearance in 2019, where they exited the group phase without a single point to their name.
Before departing, Banyana Banyana players wanted 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.
This is over and above the money they will each receive from Fifa for their presence at the global showpiece, which is more than R500,000.
Additionally, the players had asked that the guaranteed money from Fifa be included in their contracts before they signed — possibly a sign of their distrust of the association.
Moreover, the players wanted the technical team and the three players that are on standby in case of injury to members of the final cohort, and are currently training with the team, to also receive an incentive for their efforts.
“One of the fundamental things was that they [the players] said they had 23 who were going, but asked what could be done for the three on standby. It’s not only them who they looked after but also the support staff,” said the president of the South African Football Players’ Union, Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe.
As it stands, the World Cup-bound 23 will each receive their guaranteed Fifa money, plus an additional R230,000. The standby players will also be awarded this fee. The technical staff will be granted R150,000 for their efforts.
Call for help
Safa said they could not afford the money and reached out for external help, which is where the Motsepe Foundation stepped in.
“I phoned people from Fifa yesterday, because there is another pot of $1.5-million, and I asked them if we can take from one pot to another pot, because we were looking for the additional money. The answer was clearly no. So, the only way is that we had to find money outside. That is what we did,” Safa’s president, Danny Jordaan, told journalists on Wednesday.
Jordaan said they had reached out to the Motsepes because they knew that “the answer will always be yes” when they ask for their help.
When the Premier Soccer League (PSL) found itself without a sponsor for the second tier of South African soccer at the beginning of last season, they also called on the Motsepes. This resulted in the Motsepe Foundation Championship replacing GladAfrica.
Motsepe Foundation co-founder Precious Moloi-Motsepe said, “[Banyana Banyana] are our champions. They sweat and they bleed for us. We need to treat them as such. We pay lip service to gender equality and when it comes to the action part, we don’t do so.”
Jordaan acknowledged that Safa had waited too late to negotiate with the players.
“One of the fundamental things in this country is the right to strike. It’s a fundamental right. It’s not unusual. When the strike happens, it comes at a strategic point, both in sport and generally,” Jordaan said. “So that workers can maximise their gains. We understand that. We accept that.”
With their issues resolved, the team can now focus on the World Cup. Some of the squad travelled to New Zealand on Wednesday. The rest will depart on Thursday.
Following that, they face Costa Rica on 15 July as part of their final World Cup preparations. In a tough group with Sweden, Italy and Argentina, the hope is that with their grievances sorted, the team will be able to tackle the task at hand — making an impact at their sophomore World Cup appearance. DM