The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) supports the outcries and the courageous stand taken by the Banyana Banyana senior team to fight against the unfair and disrespectful treatment they are getting from the South African Football Association (SAFA). 

SAFTU condemns the comments of an unnamed SAFA official who, giving a comment on account of anonymity to News24, called the reigning African champions “traitors” for daring to fight for their rights, and for a fair and respectful treatment. These uncaring individuals who are tasked with running football in our country, abdicate responsibility and attempt to mask their failures by invoking the patriotic card. Their fake patriotism does not apply when they bungle everything they are tasked with managing. 

Our trade union affiliate, the South African Football Players Union (SAFPU), has been at the forefront, championing the grievances and demands of these players, who clearly deserve better, having been treated as the stepchildren of football in this country. 

The grievances and demands of the Banyana Banyana senior team include amongst others the quality of the team and pitch for the World Cup preparation matches, payment from SAFA, equal pay for equal work and contracts for the technical support team. 

The quality of the team and pitch 

Their grievance that they could not play an international friendly match (against Botswana) at a low quality stadium (Tsakane Stadium) is justified. The players raised issues of possible injuries playing in a clay and grass field, especially as they are 

preparing to compete in the World Cup. Since the leagues in the country are on break, it is really unjustifiable that they were allocated such a stadium. 

However, choosing to use Tsakane Stadium was not an act of a novice nor ‘innocent’ act of incompetence or negligence on the part of SAFA. Instead, their decision should be attributed to greediness, accompanied by indifference and lack of care for the health and fitness of the squad that is preparing to contest for a World Cup. Federation International of (de) Football Association (FIFA) has given SAFA $1 million (R18,7 million) to prepare Banyana Banyana for the World Cup. This money is supposed to be used to book Banyana Banyana quality friendly matches, including to pay the expenses for such games. For no apparent reasons, the SAFA officials have opted to use Tsakane Stadium, and book Botswana for the friendly, which the senior players have complained does not bring the competitive quality they will meet in the World Cup. SAFTU finds no faults with these compelling arguments. If anything, we are surprised that with the budget given to them by FIFA, SAFA could not meet these simple demands. 

Demand for $21 000 pay by SAFA 

SAFTU supports Banyana Banyana demand for a minimum “$21 000 (R395 876)” per player for their participation in the World Cup, in addition to what FIFA is offering them. The $30 000 (R563 337) offered by FIFA should be a minimum, not a maximum payment. SAFA must foot the bill over and above this minimum. The amount offered by FIFA, and the $21 000 that SAFA should concede to give the players, should both be a minimum for mere participation in the World Cup tournament. If Banyana Banyana wins games, and succeed to other levels beyond group stages, the money offered nationally must increase beyond $21 000. Such minimums and adjustments made on the basis of progress from one stage to another, must be coded into a contract, so that they will not be robbed later. 

Contracts for technical support team 

Reports from their representatives indicates that the technical support team for Banyana Banyana are not offered contracts and will be paid in the form of honorariums/gratuity. SAFTU, like the members of the team, rejects this condition for the technical support team. 

This team – which includes physiotherapists, doctors, fitness coaches, etc, – is central for successes of this team. They must be treated like other staff members, and be offered contracts, even if the conditions of the contract may vary. They will also have liberty to negotiate better terms of these contracts, with assistance from their trade union representatives. 

Equal pay 

SAFA, thanks to the public outcry following the triumph of Banyana-Banyana at the African championships in 2022, was forced to embrace the principle of equal pay. Sources report that players in Bafana Bafana were being paid R60 000 per game, whilst women players are paid R20 000. This pay disparity between Banyana Banyana and Bafana Bafana has exposed SAFA’s prejudiced position in treating the women players compared to men players. It is in clear violation of Employment Equity, which requires people working equal work to receive equal pay. 

In an attempt to equalize, however, SAFA is considering lowering the money it gives to Bafana, in order to equalize it with those of Banyana. SAFTU rejects this diminution in wages. We contend that equalization must not be equalization in poverty, but equalization in decent pay. Instead of reducing the pay offered to Bafana, SAFA must increase the Banyana-Banyana pay to the levels of Bafana-Bafana. 

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