Safa ‘has minimised’ financial losses over cancelled Bafana Bafana friendly
The SA Football Association (Safa) will not incur “losses of a serious nature” after xenophobic violence this week saw first Zambia then Madagascar pull out of an international friendly‚ acting chief executive Russell Paul has said.
The violent attacks on foreign nationals and businesses in the country led to the abrupt cancellation by the Football Association of Zambia (Faz) of Bafana Bafana’s international friendly against that country schedule for Lusaka on Saturday.
Madagascar stepped in to play Bafana at Orlando Stadium‚ then also withdrew.
The budget to put together an international match for Bafana runs into millions.
Depending on the venue and the location‚ it costs Safa a minimum of R5m to organise a single international match when the final numbers are tallied.
Costs include flying players in from their European clubs and elsewhere around the world.
With the Bafana squad of players‚ technical and backroom staff having stayed in a hotel during their week-long preparations‚ Safa will also pick up the bill for accommodation and return flights back to clubs for the overseas brigade.
Other losses will come from operational costs such cancellations of stadium hire‚ player appearance fees and security.
All these expenses will boil down to wasteful expenditure as financial resources were committed but the ultimate objective not achieved.
The objective for the September window was to give new coach Molefi Ntseki to assess the squad he has assembled but more importantly to give Bafana game time ahead crucial back-to-back qualifying matches in November for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
But acting CEO Paul played down the financial implications that come with cancelling an international fixture and said Safa has managed to keep the losses at a minimum.
“We have managed to speak to the relevant stakeholders involved and from a cost perspective we have minimised those issues‚” Paul said after Madagascar’s withdrawal.
“I think the various stakeholders understand that it is not something of our own doing.
“There might be some minor costs that we will incur but we have managed to ensure that we don’t incur losses of any serious nature.”
Paul said the circumstances that led to the withdrawals of Zambia and Madagascar were “political” and needed to be addressed at the highest government level.
“It was something out of our hands. So I think a lot of people kind of understood. They are not happy but they understand‚” said Paul.
Faz called off the friendly in Lusaka on Tuesday in response to the wave of xenophobic attacks in SA. Bafana were set to fly to Zambia on Thursday.
Safa moved swiftly and a secured Madagascar as next opponents for Bafana.
But the Indian Ocean islanders also pulled out at the eleventh hour as South Africa feels the effects of the backlash from other African countries.
Paul was at pains to stress that the circumstances were beyond Safa’s control.
Given the unrest‚ Zambia and Madagascar were applauded for their decision as many on the continent saw it as a necessary stand against the xenophobic violence in South Africa.
“There seems to be a tendency out there in the public domain and or in the media space that this is a football issue. This is not a football issue‚” Paul said.
“This has got nothing to do with football‚ which is why the Safa president [Danny Jordaan] has come out and condemned the xenophobic attacks and violence.
“It has got nothing to do with football‚ however football is being subjected and paying the price for it.”