Banyana Banyana must be paid what they deserve
Iwatched with interest the hype generated by the WAFCON win of our women’s national team Banyana Banyana. People who have never watched a single Banyana game suddenly became interested in the whole story and many had a lot of opinions about it.
The most spoken-about aspect was money: how much they should be paid versus what they were actually being paid, or promised to be paid. Everyone had an opinion, all of a sudden.
Sadly, many were speaking from positions of absolute ignorance as they were occasional sport followers. People who, a week before, could not name a single Banyana player now had opinions about them and the game itself.
Safa made a promise to the women that each would receive R400,000 upon their being crowned African champions.
Then, when the women won, there was a call for Safa to honour that commitment. Fair enough. However, the statement by Safa president Danny Jordaan seemed to be saying something different and led to a lot of confusion.
Many began to think Safa was reneging on the promise to pay the women what they had been promised.
For me there are two issues at play here. Safa paying them what they promised and another one which a lot of people, not really connected to the game, have made equal pay with Bafana Bafana.
When the team departed this is what Jordaan said: “We are going to pay R9.2m in bonuses for this team on the basis that they win the Awcon. So if they win Awcon we will pay R9.2m.
“If you look at the other costs, in other words our total investment in this team for specifically this Awcon, it is R10m,” said Jordaan.
The team won the tournament and are expecting Safa to honour that promise. I will not get into any other peripheral discussion on the matter and delve into innuendos and speculations.
A lot has been said since the win so I will ignore it and hold to what was officially said by the Safa president.
On the second issue of equal pay for both national teams, those making that call clearly are ignorant of football economics.
There are many ways a team generates money through sponsorship, gate takings and TV rights. Sponsorship and TV rights follow after spectator support. The more people who watch the game live, the more interest it will garner from TV and then sponsors will inevitably follow.
Eyeballs attract TV and TV attracts sponsors. That is how it works.
Of the many who call for equal pay, how many actually watch the women’s game, either in the stadium or on TV, when it is aired? How many take in women’s football content on the various media platforms?
The equal pay issue is at the end of the spectrum. We should start with first things first. Watch and follow the women’s game, then money will follow.
The mere fact that the bonuses will have to be paid from the prize money is an indication that women’s football generates next to nothing. It has very little commercial value at present.
Until that changes, equal pay would be a suicide mission for the cash-strapped Safa. Money doesn’t grow on trees, unfortunately.
We need to leverage the Wafcon win to grow the women’s game and make it attractive for sponsors.
We need to hold on to the occasional spectactors and make them permanent. Then we can talk about equal pay.