Cape Times

Delayed Bafana games: For SABC to do this is really not acceptable, say Safa

- Mazola Molefe

JOHANNESBU­RG: The SA Football Associatio­n (Safa), although still reaping the financial rewards – R110-million per year – of a partnershi­p negotiated with the SABC in May 2015, have taken up the issue of how the public broadcaste­r “deprived” the nation by not showing Bafana Bafana matches live.

It is not the first time this arrangemen­t has irked the football mother body, but Safa’s concerns rose again following the SABC’s failure to televise the historic victory away to Nigeria three weeks ago.

Bafana beat Nigeria for the first time in a qualifying game, in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations opening qualifier – and the SABC only broadcast the encounter two hours after kickoff, describing it as a “delayed live” clash and presenters and analysts pretending not to know the full-time result.

“There is no sports team in this country with as big a following as Bafana Bafana, and for the SABC to do something like that is really not acceptable,” said Safa chief executive Dennis Mumble yesterday.

The public broadcaste­r is reportedly in financial strain, and the fiasco about not beaming the Bafana match earlier this month is believed to be one of the signs that the organisati­on is in crisis.

“We understand, to an extent, the challenges they are facing right now. But the nation has to see Bafana live, and in future we are going to insist that our games be shown. We are also going to push for Cosafa games to be on SABC, but it is probably too late now (the tournament is under way in Rustenburg and the national team face Botswana in the quarter-finals on Sunday, with all the fixtures on pay-channel SuperSport) so the discussion­s will be about next year,” Mumble continued.

“The audience for Bafana is twice that of all the sporting codes combined on television. So we cannot deprive the SA public of that. We will do something.”

Mumble revealed that Safa and the SABC were due to negotiate an extension of the deal that was struck in 2015 and which expires next year. In that agreement, the SABC agreed that all content regarding Bafana would be televised and would also feature on the public broadcaste­r’s radio and digital platforms.

It’s not quite the case, and Mumble could not provide a straightfo­rward answer when asked why the game in Nigeria was only shown two hours after the scheduled kick-off.

“You see, for the away games we don’t own those rights,” he explained. “And they have to purchase them from the host countries . What I heard through the grapevine is that they could not afford to buy the rights to broadcast, and that cost was probably discounted when they decided to show it later.

“In that context, we want to be supportive of our partners at the SABC to get their house in order financiall­y and then be able to purchase the rights. In some ways we have to understand, but it doesn’t mean we are happy about it. We will talk to the SABC and see if we can’t intervene with our sister federation­s or CAF to see if there can be some arrangemen­t with the SABC going forward.”

Mumble confirmed that the SABC are at least able to honour the financial terms of the deal, with R10-million from the public broadcaste­r this year part of a projected profit of R33.7-million, although that is still to be audited before the end of the financial year tomorrow.

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