WATCH | Banyana arrive, Safpu argue with Safa, say team wanted to play
As events surrounding Banyana Banyana’s dispute with the South African Football Association (Safa) continued to unfold, the team arrived at Tsakane Stadium just before halftime of the World Cup send-off match against Botswana they were supposed to be playing.
The players were accompanied to the ground in Ekurhuleni by South African Football Players’ Union (Safpu) officials.
Safpu president Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe and other union officials said the players wanted to play the game and were on the bus ready to depart for Tsakane Stadium when they were instructed that a hastily arranged replacement side would take their place.
The players entered the stadium’s tunnel area and were initially denied entry to the stands to watch the match, as Safpu and Safa officials loudly argued.
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi emerged from a lift to defuse the situation, taking Safpu officials aside and making provision for Banyana to go to the stands to watch the game.
Safpu officials said the dispute was about an appearance fee from Fifa to take part in the Women’s World Cup, which Banyana depart for on Wednesday and Thursday, and a bonus structure for progress in the tournament not being agreed on with Safa.
.@Banyana_Banyana players arrive at Tsakane Stadium just before half time of the World Cup sendoff they are supposed to be playing ... Safpu president Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe says they wanted to play but were told to get off the bus pic.twitter.com/X2OSCYUW3N— Marc Strydom (@marc_strydom) July 2, 2023
The players were also unhappy about the pitch at the rustic Tsakane Stadium and standard of the facility as a venue for their send-off to the World Cup.
The replacement combination comprising players sourced from the second-tier Sasol Women’s League took the field against Botswana in front of a sizeable crowd. The South Africans lost 5-0.
This represents the worst possible send-off the African champions could have had for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20.
It comes as a huge embarrassment to Safa.
Safa officials at the ground said there would be comment from the association after the match was completed.
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.