Safa keen to avoid Bafana Bafana bonus battle ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

New SAFA CEO Lydia Monyepao during the SAFA Press Conference on 08 May 2023 at SAFA House

Safa chief executive Lydia Monyepao, speaking at Safa House on Saturday after their last national executive committee meeting, admitted they are still deadlocked in the negotiations with Bafana players ahead of the finals. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Dec 11, 2023

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The South African Football Association (Safa) is working around the clock to ensure that it is not involved in another bonus row with one of the senior national teams before a major tournament.

There’s only a month left before the Africa Cup of Nations begins in Ivory Coast, and Bafana Bafana and Safa are yet to agree terms on performance bonuses in the finals.

That uncertainty has left many fearing the worst, given that the mother body and Banyana Banyana were involved in a row over bonuses a few days before the start of the Fifa World Cup in Australasia.

Safa chief executive Lydia Monyepao, speaking at Safa House on Saturday after their last national executive committee meeting, admitted they are still deadlocked in the negotiations with the players ahead of the finals.

Still in talks

“We are still in negotiations, and we have not really wrapped up the negotiations yet,” said Monyepao.

“We are hoping that through my discussions with the senior players before the end of the year, we have an agreement on the table before they go to camp.”

Bafana sealed their ticket to Ivory Coast in March with a game to spare, but Safa only engaged the players over the performance bonuses recently.

“We engaged players in September in terms of the different bonuses of international competitions – before we got to the Fifa World Cup qualifiers – and we agreed on that,” Monyepao said.

“We then started to engage them … on the Afcon bonuses. We tabled an offer and they came back with a counter-offer.

“We went back with another counter-offer.”

Bafana are making their first return to the African showpiece since the 2019 finals where they made it to the quarter-finals under Stuart Baxter. At those finals in Egypt, Bafana players received bonuses in line with their progress in the knockout stages – from the round of 16 to the final.

Monyepao says they want to adapt a similar approach for the event in Ivory Coast, but despite wanting to make everyone happy, they do not have deep pockets.

Same approach

“We are adopting a similar structure to 2019. I think that’s our basis – saying what is it that you are going to get if you get into the round of 16 and so forth,” Monyepao said.

“It’s a performance bonus, more than anything. And yes, the talks are taking longer.

“As we know, everyone is going to ask for more money. As Safa, we have to see what we can afford or can’t.

“We want them to be happy, but at the same time we don’t want to run ourselves into bankruptcy and offer amounts we can’t afford (as) an association.

“That’s why the negotiations have taken longer. They want this and we can’t afford this. We have to find a way where we can meet each other halfway.”

Despite wanting to reach an agreement for the performance bonuses before the end of the year, Safa and Bafana coach Hugo Broos have already set aside dates to prepare for Afcon.

Bafana will assemble for a camp in Stellenbosch from January 4 to 9 before playing Lesotho in a friendly behind closed doors on January 10 in Johannesburg.

Broos’ men will then fly out to Ivory Coast on January 11, where they’ll be based in Korhogo before playing their opening game in Group E against Mali five days later.

@Mihlalibaleka

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