SABC-Safa bickering hurts poor

Safa president Danny Jordaan.
Safa president Danny Jordaan.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

As Bafana Bafana prepare to take on the Seychelles in tomorrow's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, most South Africans may not be able to watch this match, thanks to bickering between the SA Football Association (Safa) and the SABC.

Safa announce yesterday that it had reached a deadlock in contract negotiations with the SABC and the public broadcaster would not be allowed to flight any national match from now on.

Safa also noted that the SABC had recently concluded deals with Cricket SA to broadcast a T20 tournament and to flight English Premier League games.

We highlighted in this space a few weeks ago that the SABC seemed to have its priorities all messed up. We couldn't understand how it could plead poverty while at the same time agreeing to buy rights to the most overpriced league in the world: the English league.

Whatever the reasons, the South African public must not suffer. We saw South Africans hurting as a result of this kind of incompetence in August when the Premier Soccer League season resumed. None of the opening matches were broadcast on SABC radio because the PSL and SABC had yet to conclude a deal.

As a result, millions of South Africans who rely on radio - primarily the aged and the blind - were locked out of the opening week of top flight football. An intervention by the government eventually rescued the situation. But now another crisis is developing with regard to national teams.

Safa and the SABC must find common ground and stop this bickering. The SABC's excuse that it doesn't have money is not sufficient, not least after it splashed on rights for other events. Safa is right to call out these double standards. But it should realise any further delays will see the poor - who can't afford pay-TV and high data costs - suffer more.

The association must be firm but it should also not dig in its heels to the detriment of the majority of South Africans.

We wish the national team good luck in their two matches against the Seychelles. Even by their history of disappointments, Stuart Baxter's team should be able to collect maximum points, which should virtually seal SA's a place in the Nations Cup finals in Cameroon next year.

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