An aerial view of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, home of the local Msunduzi Municipality. File Picture.
An aerial view of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, home of the local Msunduzi Municipality. File Picture.

Msunduzi Municipality hits back at criticism over Maritzburg United’s multimillion-rand sponsorship

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Sep 1, 2021

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DURBAN: The Msunduzi Municipality has hit back at the criticism of its decision to sponsor Maritzburg United football club with millions of rand.

The City said the criticism and outrage did not take into consideration the benefits the city derived from the team’s presence in the municipality.

Last week, councillors voted to approve a multimillion-rand sponsorship deal for the club.

The club will receive R9 million a season for the next three years.

The sponsorship triggered a firestorm of criticism, centred on the fact the municipality was broke and struggling to deliver services to its community.

“Msunduzi Municipality has noted the outrage by certain organisations and individuals on social media perpetuated by the media,” said municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha.

She explained the decision to sponsor Maritzburg United.

“The existence of Maritzburg United and its participation in the elite football league in the country bears with it a positive citing of our City as it attracts attention and puts the City in the limelight.

“Many South Africans who didn’t have that much insight into our city's history and heritage would have been complemented by the existence of our Team of Choice.”

She said there were also economic spin-offs to the arrangement.

“The Friday night match days, the evidence of local economic injection can be clearly seen in the surrounding accommodation establishments, local petrol stations, eateries and informal vendors inside and outside the stadium.

“The benefit of the local transport and taxi industry is also visible as fans from around the district and, in some cases, fans from within and outside the province descend on our city for their dose of the elite South African soccer spectacle.”

Mafumbatha said the club was also promoting social cohesion in the city.

”During the packed Harry Gwala Stadium (games), we continue to witness soccer die-hards from different races together in song and in unity.”

THE MERCURY

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