Safa to donors: Thanks, but no thanks
Companies want to reward Banyana excellence, but Safa says it will not take handouts
“You cannot turn a national team, a successful one at that, into a charity case. Show me one person who became rich from begging on street corners!”
These are the strong words of Safa president Danny Jordaan after his organisation fobbed off approaches from a number of companies that wanted to donate towards Banyana Banyana’s bonuses after the team lost 4-3 on penalties to Nigeria in the Women’s Afcon final, but qualified for the Women’s World Cup next year.
Safa and Banyana sponsors Sasol gave the team
R2 415 000 to share among themselves for their feat.
“We have had so many approaches since the team’s success, however, our approach has been that let’s sit down and discuss a sustainable plan rather than a onceoff donation,” said Jordaan.
One of the entities that made headlines last week was insurance company MiWay, whose chief executive, René Otto, called in to Bongani Bingwa’s breakfast show on Radio 702 and pledged R100 000 as a once-off “festive season bonus” for Banyana.
This was rejected outright by Safa, which called Otto and others who had offered donations “opportunists”.
An astounded Otto was quoted on the CapeTalk radio website on Monday as saying: “I can’t explain to you why Safa turned the offer down ... I’m a little bit at a loss for words.
“The offer was not made to Safa, but to the players. They are the ones who overcame the obstacles and showed us a level of excellence that we haven’t seen for a long time in the country. It’s really just a donation to celebrate excellence.
“No one at Safa spoke to us ... They just say we are being opportunistic. The players are underpaid.”
However, Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul said he had made contact with Otto. Otto said Paul told him that, if his company was genuinely interested in helping grow women’s football in the country, “they must come up with sustainable support for women’s football, not just a once-off donation”.
“I did speak to him and explained our position that they must come sit around the table with us and discuss a sustainable plan to support women’s football. He did not seem to agree with me on that approach. However, we have agreed to take this discussion further,” said Paul.
He added that some people who had made offers seemed to come from a position of ignorance or they were not well informed.
“I was shocked when [Otto] told me that he had heard that there were no bonuses for Banyana Banyana, hence his company’s gesture. I mean, we structured bonuses [in January] this year.”
Paul also explained that the offers for donations were not made through Safa, but as an answer to Radio 702’s clarion call.
“The pledges were not made directly to us, but to 702 after their challenge to corporates last week. I also told them in an interview on Monday that thanks, but no thanks, we will not accept handouts.”
When asked if rejecting such donations was shortsighted for an organisation that had just reported a loss in its latest financial report, Paul said: “Yes, we did report an R18 million loss at our congress on Sunday, however, that does not mean Safa is on its knees. We will turn things around.
“The rest of Africa is saying South Africa is the only country that can currently host the 24-nation Afcon next year. We are going to bid to host and we also plan to register our intent of interest with Fifa to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
“Can you imagine what it will mean for Banyana Banyana after qualifying for next year’s [tournament] to then play the 2023 World Cup at home? We pushed very hard and invested a lot of money to get Banyana to qualify for the World Cup and we are pleased with the outcome,” said Paul.
Otto confirmed he had spoken to Paul and that it was true they had agreed to take the discussion further. He also confirmed that he had initially been told that Banyana didn’t get any bonuses.
HERO’S WELCOME From left: Safa president Danny Jordaan, Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa, Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk, Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis and Sasol vice-president of group communication and brand management Elton Fortuin display the R2 415 000 cheque that the Banyana team will share