Safa explains reasons behind Women’s World Cup bid U-turn

Safa chief executive Lydia Monyepao. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

Safa chief executive Lydia Monyepao. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

Published Nov 26, 2023


The South African Football Association (Safa) has offered an explanation for its decision to pull out of the running to host the 2027 Fifa Women’s World Cup, describing it as “quite unfortunate”.

Safa shocked the country’s football community with its announcement on Friday evening that it was withdrawing from bidding to host the event.

South Africa was one of four bidders vying to stage the World Cup. The three remaining include a joint bid by Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands; another joint bid by Mexico and the United States; and a bid by Brazil.

It is not entirely clear what prompted the withdrawal, but Safa said in a statement that the “time frame for developing the 2027 Fifa Women’s World Cup bid has been challenging”.

The “challenging” time frame mentioned in the statement suggests that South Africa’s bid committee was battling to meet bidding process deadlines.

According to Safa chief executive Lydia Monyepao: “It is quite unfortunate that we have to pull out of bidding for the 2027 Fifa Women’s World Cup, but after doing an assessment and consulting extensively, the decision had to be made.

“We felt that it was better to present a well-prepared bid for the 2031 Fifa Women’s World Cup and ensure we put our best foot forward, rather than producing a rushed presentation.”

Over the years, bids have been withdrawn because the world football controlling body Fifa, working behind the scenes, asked countries to withdraw bids because they favoured another bid in the interest of global development.

Bids have also been withdrawn because host countries could not come up with the cash to back the event. Government guarantees have been the cornerstones of tournament bids. Up to now, the SA government has backed the bid.

Looking at the initial four bids, South Africa was deemed a front-runner, along with Brazil. Withdrawing now will seem to many like a great opportunity lost.

The country’s bid was considered to be on a winning trajectory after the euphoria generated recently by the performance of Banyana Banyana at the Women’s World Cup a few weeks ago.

Banyana Banyana has brought more recognition to football internationally and locally than the men’s game.

Against this background, the bid was proving more popular than ever in the wake of the hugely popular Springbok triumph at the Rugby World Cup in France recently.

Tumi Dlamini, chairperson of South Africa’s 2027 Fifa Women’s World Cup bid committee, said, after throwing in the towel, that they wished the remaining bidders well.

South Africa would now pitch a bid for the 2031 showpiece.

“South Africa’s efforts to invest in women’s sports will and must be a priority. We wish the rest of the bidding nations all of the best,” said Dlamini.

“Football remains one of the most unifying sports in the world and investing in women’s sports must continue to be a priority in South Africa.

“I am humbled to have played a small, although very short role in promoting women in sport.

“Whilst I am saddened that South Africa has to pull out of the 2027 bid, I have no doubt that we will come back with a strong and compelling bid for the 2031 Fifa Women’s World Cup.”