Cape Town — “It’s cos he’s white!”
That was the first comment on social media under Cape Town City’s announcement of their new team sponsor FNB on Monday.
I was flabbergasted. “He”, of course, was City chairperson John Comitis.
There is undoubtedly historical weight behind the user’s comment.
And it is something Goolam Allie – chairperson of former Premiership champions Santos – will attest to with regards to the racial bias he encountered in the battle to secure corporate backing for professional football clubs in Cape Town.
But it certainly had no merit here.
Fortunately, there were fellow social media users who quickly redirected the conversation, and spelt out the professionalism of Cape Town City that has made them an attractive sponsorship option.
Comitis is a shrewd businessperson – he always has been – but he is also a football fanatic, and has a deeply-embedded passion for football in Cape Town.
It was the primary reason he reformed City, after a family feud led to him leaving Ajax Cape Town.
Comitis believes the Mother City is deserving of a football club that belongs to all the people of this beautiful city at the tip of Africa.
As their promotional video stated on Monday, their fan base stretches “from the beaches of Mnandi to Camps Bay”.
Since City’s reincarnation in 2016, Comitis has proven that he is willing to invest in Cape Town’s own.
Not only have the club polished up raw talent from the local communities out on the playing field, but it was Comitis who gave Cape Town’s favourite footballing son, Benni McCarthy, his first professional coaching job.
McCarthy’s ascent to Premier League giants Manchester United’s coaching staff this week has plenty to do with Comitis’ commitment to placing his faith in the then-novice coach.
Equally, under Comitis’ guidance, City have developed into a club that now sits comfortably at the same exclusive dining table that was once solely occupied by Mamelodi Sundowns and Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
Despite having a fraction of the resources in comparison to their contemporaries prior to the FNB partnership, City have taken it upon themselves to ensure their players and coaching staff are equipped with the proper training facilities, technical and medical support to perform to their optimum abilities.
They have also understood the digital revolution arguably better than anyone, with their social media campaigns among the most engaging and creative – thereby attracting a very diverse audience.
They are officially the fourth most followed Premiership club on Twitter.
Having finished runners-up in both the league and MTN8 to champions Sundowns last season, they now also have the on-field pedigree to go along with the off-field professionalism.
The upcoming maiden Caf Champions League campaign is massive in growing the club’s continental footprint, especially with the host of African starlets who have recently joined the club.
It is for these reasons that City have managed to forge a relationship with one of the largest financial services conglomerates in South Africa.
And not because their chairperson happens to be white …