CAPE TOWN – With less than a month to go to the May 8 general elections, the South African Football Association have taken the unusual step to ban any political and religious regalia at local soccer matches.
Safa announced in a statement on Tuesday that the regalia “has the potential to raise tensions between supporters of different political parties”.
The football governing body “noted a new trend in which supporters of political parties attend football matches displaying and promoting political or religious t-shirts, flags and other regalia”.
Safa’s acting chief executive Russell Paul said: “Football is apolitical in its nature, and we should all strive to promote a friendly, family atmosphere at the stadiums.
“It is for this reason that political regalia is among the list of prohibited items that are banned by Caf, Fifa and affiliated FAs.
“While we respect individuals’ right to associate himself/herself with the political party of his/her choice or to be affiliated to any religious sector of one’s choice, this should not be done openly within football environments, as it is in violation of football governing bodies’ statutes.
“This has also the potential to raise tensions between supporters of different political parties and might lead to physical confrontations.”
Paul added that fans who do not adhere to the rule will “either be ejected from the stadiums or have their regalia taken away from them”.
But fans on Twitter were quick to point out that the Safa president, Danny Jordaan, is an ANC stalwart – having also been a former mayor of Port Elizabeth.
Others felt that the rule was unnecessary.
“SAFA is mad,they are losing it, most of the ppl who support soccer are religious and political affiliated,” posted @DoctorsonMabas2. “That means that supporter from Bloemfontein Celtic,called Bishop is in trouble.”