JOHANNESBURG - The SA Football Association (Safa), although still reaping the financial rewards - R110-million per year - of a partnership negotiated with the SABC on 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 have risen yet again following the SABC’s failure to televise the historic victory away to Nigeria three weeks ago.
Bafana, in new coach Stuart Baxter’s first official game in charge, beat bogey side Nigeria for the first time in a qualifying game played at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations opening qualifier - and the SABC could only broadcast the encounter two hours after kick-off, describing it as a “delayed live” clash and presenters as well as 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 on Wednesday.
The public broadcaster are reportedly in dire financial strain and have been cutting back for several months now, and the fiasco about not beaming the Bafana match earlier this month is believed to be one of the signs that the organisation are 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 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 on Friday.