JOHANNESBURG – Barcelona will hold a press conference on Monday to confirm their participation in an international friendly against Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium on May 16 as part of the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations.
It seems that the Brazilians’ president Patrice Motsepe jumped the gun by making the announcement on Metro FM’s sport show on Friday, even though everything had been signed with Barcelona.
The Catalan club initially denied there being such a friendly as they haven’t made an official announcement as yet.
That announcement will be made on Monday, and this match will go ahead, even though it comes before the Premier Soccer League (PSL) season is officially over.
“This match is beyond the PSL,” the organisation’s acting chief executive Mato Madlala said.
“It’s a matter between the two associations (South Africa and Spain). The only reason why the match wouldn’t go ahead is if Safa says so.”
Five years ago, the PSL blocked Ajax Cape Town from hosting English side Liverpool in an international friendly after the Absa Premiership season was already wrapped up, with the Nedbank Cup final and the PSL awards the only two missing items before the season was officially over.
The PSL argued that they don’t allow international friendlies while the season is still on because it competes with their own events and sponsors.
Sundowns’ friendly against Barcelona will be played three days before the Nedbank Cup final between Free State Stars and Maritzburg United on May 19 at Cape Town Stadium.
The National Soccer League handbook states that, “member clubs or players may not play in any match against a team from another national association without the written permission of the league (PSL) and Safa”.
It goes on to say that “requests for permission to play a friendly must be submitted in writing at least 30 days prior to the match. The prescribed documentation as laid down by Fifa must be completed and submitted to the league.
“The league may condone a late application on good cause shown. Friendly matches may not be played during the period (of) 1 August until five days after the final official match of the season, except during an official break in the league’s fixtures.
“The league may refuse permission on the grounds that the friendly match may interfere with the league’s programme or its marketing.”
Madlala said: “This is different. This match is part of bigger celebrations that form part of the Nelson Mandela centenary. It falls under the category of those celebrations. This match is in the nation’s interest.
“There are a number of stakeholders involved in it, from the association (Safa), to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Motsepe Foundation. But more importantly, our sponsors (Nedbank) have given it the green light.”
It is believed that the Motsepe Foundation forked out €7 million (close to R105 million) to host the Spanish champions.
Barcelona will bring their star players – Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho among others – as part of the agreement signed by the two teams.
Sundowns president Motsepe is likely to be at Monday’s Barcelona announcement.
Motsepe is in Spain along with Safa president Danny Jordaan to watch Sunday night’s El Clasico at Camp Nou between Barcelona and Real Madrid.