2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Banyana Banyana’s preparations

Sports, Arts and Culture

26 February 2019
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation has called on corporate South Africa to help support Banyana Banyana’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign. The Committee heard during a presentation from the South African Football Association (SAFA) that R20 million had been budgeted for the entire campaign. The World Cup was scheduled to take place in France between 7 June and 7 July 2019.

SAFA said that player participation had increased, and by the year 2022 its target was to have one million female footballers. The key focus area to achieve this growth was with school-based sport. Football was already the second most-played sport by women, and the aim was to make it the first.

Taking a look at the National Women’s League (NWL) that would be launched during August 2019, with the objective of targeting Women’s Month, women’s football had been rapidly developing over the last few years, particularly since 1991, with the first Women’s World Cup in China. Globally, over 30 million females were currently participating in the sport. Despite this growth, there was still much to be done.

The Committee welcomed SAFA’s investment in women’s football, but said it needed to be supplemented. The Chairperson went on to say, “Corporate South Africa and private businesses need to avail financial resources and support Banyana Banyana. Success is cultivated and funded, which is where the women’s game seems to be lacking.”

SAFA outlined the team’s extensive preparations for the Women’s World Cup, including a series of friendly games scheduled to take place between Banyana Banyana and other World Cup teams, including the Netherlands, Finland and Jamaica. It also said that it planned to bid to host the 2023 event.

The Committee, at the request of SAFA, said it would investigate the feasibility of taxing the sports betting industry (SBI) as a means of supplementing the shortfall in revenue required for sport funding, as was the case in many other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand.

Meeting report

The Chairperson commenced the meeting by welcoming all in attendance, especially the South African Football Association (SAFA) delegation, led by its president, Dr Danny Jordaan. She went on to thank SAFA for its continuous support of Banyana Banyana, but urged the business community to increase its support and assist the team in their Women’s World Cup Campaign. She also thanked Banyana’s coach, Ms Desiree Ellis, for her commitment.

The Chairperson pointed out the absence of the National Lottery Commission, and as they had requested an alternative date to appear and present to the Committee.

SAFA Presentation

President’s introduction

Dr Danny Jordaan, President, SAFA, introduced all the members making up his delegation, which included Ms Ria Ledwaba (Vice President); Ms Nomonde Ndyoko (Vice President: SAFA, Western Cape,) and Mr Russell Paul (Acting CEO) who would lead the presentation.

He said that in 2013, a decision had been taken by SAFA to look at its leadership structure and representation. At the moment, they had on their national executive their first woman vice president, Ms Ria Ledwaba. At SAFA’s  52 regions, there were two female presidents, which was the first time in the history of South African football that they had women as presidents of a region. Further, in each of the 52 regions, where the president (of the region) was not a female, the vice-president had to be a woman, as specified in SAFA’s constitution. In terms of the players, participation had increased, and by the year 2022 SAFA’s target was to have one million female footballers. The key focus area to achieve this growth was with school-based sport. Football was already the second most-played sport by women, and the aim was to make it the first.

On the male side, football was the biggest sport, with 2.3 million players, which was almost equal to all the other sport-codes combined in South Africa.

The under-17 girls’ team had played in the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the Banyana team had just qualified for the World Cup in France. They were currently preparing for their first match in Cyprus tomorrow. Furthermore, the under-20 team had qualified for the World Cup. South African teams at the junior level were doing very well. At the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, South Africa had been the only country from Africa to have both a women’s and men’s team. Our under-20 team, of course, had qualified for the second time.

There were other matters SAFA wanted to raise, and as they have agreed on the agenda (as amended), they would deal with the revenue side for women’s sport in general. There was a lack of financial support, particularly from sponsors, not only for football, but for women’s sport in general in this country. During the last decade there had been only one sponsor for women’s football, and that was SASOL. Despite the success, there had been no support, whether it was in terms of women’s cricket or women’s rugby. There was a discrepancy between the male version and the female version of the sport, which was a big challenge in South Africa.

Women’s football in South Africa

Mr Russell Paul, Acting CEO: SAFA) said that the SAFA Congress, which was the Association’s highest decision-making body, was comprised of more than 40 000 clubs, 343 local football associations, 52 regions, and nine associate members, including the National Soccer League (NSL). This was an indication of SAFA’s footprint in South Africa. SAFA had country-wide coverage, comprising every province. This coverage included making sure the administration of these regions was in place, together with continuous and regular soccer games being organised. It also had associate members who incorporated football in different contexts, such as the South African Deaf Football Association (SAFDA), the South African Indoor Football Association (SAIFA) and the South African Intellectually Impaired Football Association (SAIIFA).

Women’s football in general, and SAFA’s investment in this regard, was unparalleled in South African sporting history. Looking back three years, during 2016 the investment stood at over R52 million; in 2017, it was R51 million; and, in 2018, it was R51.3 million. In 2018, the under-13/under-15 leagues’ investment stood at R7.5 million. On the high performance centre (HPC)/under-20 Women’s Academy, where women were educated, accommodated and trained, and the SASOL Women’s League, R10.5 million was allocated. There was also R2 million for the under-17 women’s national team; R4.8 million for the under-20 women’s national team; and R20 million for Banyana Banyana. This amounted to R51.3 Million spent during 2018, and less than 50% came from financial sponsorships received.

Looking at a revenue perspective, in the past the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) had paid R110 million annually for 2015, 2016 and 2017 (R330 million over three years). Of this amount, SAFA had reinvested R40 million into women’s football. The SABC had revised this amount for the 2018/ 2019 period, reducing it to R10 million. There was no way SAFA could sustain women’s football development on its own without broadcast revenue.

Further, SAFA by far exceeded the Confederation of African Football (CAF)/FIFA requirements for women in the sport. These requirements stipulate that around 25-30% of all personnel involved in a women’s national team must be female. South Africa had exceeded these requirements. Its technical team, which included the doctors and physiotherapists, were women; SAFA’s women’s national teams’ coaches were all women and former (female) players; and its technical director at the SAFA level was a woman. In terms of its referees, it had increased women’s representation at the grassroots level through sponsorships it had received from Outsurance. Lastly, it was one of the few associations in the world that had a female taking charge of PSL matches as a centre referee. Globally, there were very few other instances of this kind.

Regarding the growth in women’s football and participation numbers, research indicated there were just over 1.6 million junior participants in 2016, including both males and females. Female participation had grown from just over 75 000 in 2007, to over 200 000 in 2016. Currently, the number had grown to 456 000. Adult female participation had grown from 186 000 in 2007 to about 435 000 in 2016, representing an increase of about 14% annually.

If one looks at the SABC audience numbers as far as soccer matches are concerned, Banyana Banyana attracts around 1.5 million viewers regularly when it is broadcast on SABC 1. In some cases, where one sees the numbers are lower, it is because the games are either broadcast on SABC 2/3 or the game was delayed. If these matches are live, however, the number of viewers is well over one million. Since 2012, starting with one million viewers, they were now at over 1.6 million, with a peak in 2017 at 1.9 million viewers.

It was important to note that from the Premier Soccer League (PSL) fixtures, the viewership numbers varied from 400 000, which was rivalled only by matches forming part of a soccer derby. The English Premier League (EPL) match coverage by the SABC, instead of SAFA matches, stand at about 400 000. If one looks at Bafana Bafana’s peak match viewer numbers, they stand at five million per game and has never been less than three million.

An interesting fact to note was that when Bafana played and beat Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), the SABC did not broadcast the match. Instead, rugby matches were broadcast, with around 350 000 viewers. The match between Bafana and Nigeria was aired 10 minutes after the end of the game, attracting around 2.5 million viewers, despite the result of the match being known.

Taking a look at the National Women’s League (NWL) that would be launched during August 2019, with the objective of targeting Women’s Month, women’s football had been rapidly developing over the last few years, particularly since 1991, with the first Women’s World Cup in China. Globally, over 30 million females were currently participating in the sport. Despite this growth, there was still much to be done. As Dr Jordaan had indicated, SAFA had a target of reaching one million female players by the year 2022.

The National Women’s League would provide an elite level of competition, which would give Banyana Banyana a further opportunity to attract and retain great players, thereby contributing to Banyana achieving sustainable success. Currently, there was the SASOL Women’s League (NWL), but progression from the former to Banyana Banyana level was too great. The intermediate stage would be served by the National Women’s League, which would eventually be professionalised in subsequent years. The teams comprising the NWL were made up of the best female players in South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

National Women’s League

In all, SAFA seeks to establish women’s football as a commercial brand, by creating competition and promotion to the NWL from the SASOL Provincial League. It also seeks to create a platform for its national coaches to identify and select the best talent, promote continuous excellence in women’s football and raise the overall standard of participation.

It also aims to create community involvement and public awareness, and generate better exposure for women’s football which would in turn attract sponsorship for the NWL and respective teams. Lastly, they seek to develop football partnerships with local, provincial and national governments, to support the NWL on the one level, and their provincial team. It was their contention that if the Department of Sport in every province were to commit around R2.5 to R3 million to support their (provincial) team, SAFA would have the funds to start this league without any issues.

SAFA had already commenced the process with the winners of the SASOL League towards the end of 2018. The nine provincial winners, together with the two professional teams which also had women’s teams, with the winner of the university team, would make up the 12 teams. During 2019 and 2020, with no relegation, two more teams would be added, meaning in 2020 there would be 14 teams, while during 2021 there would be 16 teams. Promotion and relegation would be effected at the end of 2021 for the 2022 period. During this period, teams would be able to better prepare with a degree of certainty.

Requirements

Early requirements that had been placed before the teams, was that they would be promoted through the “SASOL League National Play Offs”, and they would have to comply with the club licensing system, which SAFA was working on, together with the teams. One of the requirements for club licensing was that they needed training grounds and facilities to play at. Again, the involvement of local and provincial governments was vital. Other requirements were that each team should have a junior team; proper accounting, ensuring against misappropriation; and the coach should have a minimum qualification. Lastly, one member of the coaching staff must be female, with the minimum personnel of each club or team being a head coach, assistant coach, team manager, team doctor and a media officer. These minimum requirements were important to help the team profile and promote themselves.

In terms of the impact, the NWL could from a TV audience perspective have the SASOL League peaking at over 1.5 million during 2017. There were no figures for 2018, as the SABC had declined to broadcast the Women’s National Championship, despite having been given permission by SAFA to do so without charge. Again, in comparison to the EPL audience numbers being at about 400 000, there seemed to be no rational connection.

Key actions

SAFA needed to have an internal workshop to deal with its structure, which it had done. A follow-up workshop was scheduled for the next 10-14 days. They were planning a meeting with the teams to outline the process and assist them with preparation. There was a need to deal with sponsorship, including accommodation, sporting-kits, etc. There was also the question of stakeholder management and development; the partnership that had to be finalised with local, provincial and national government. They had to secure a broadcast partnership with TV service providers; and playing facilities, together with the teams, in their municipalities. Lastly, it needed to partner with universities and other alliance associations or institutions, to assist SAFA in accessing their scientific facilities, which would help improve the skill of the female players.

Banyana Banyana preparations for World Cup in France, 2019

On Tuesday, 27 November 2018, South Africa celebrated its first ever qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, when its team beat Mali 2-0.

The journey in preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup had started long before, as SAFA had always believed they would qualify. As far back as 2015/16, they had decided to embark on this process. One would ask why this was the case, but it was extremely difficult on the African continent to find opponents, because unlike South Africa, which was heavily invested in women’s football, the rest of the continent waits for the competition to arrive. SAFA had been preparing for the entire year, with a match being played every month.

If one looks at the competitions that were secured for the team, going as far back as 2016, Banyana played a match against the Netherlands twice, during June 2016; the USA in July 2016; France in January 2017; and  two matches against Sweden in January 2018 in Cape Town. They also participated in the Cyprus Cup in 2018, where they had matches against Slovakia, Hungary, North Korea and Belgium. Banyana Banyana participated in the COSASA Women’s Cup in 2018, which they won for the second consecutive year. They also had two matches against Chile during October 2018; and the AFCON tournament in Ghana, losing only to Nigeria in the final on penalties.

In further preparation, they had signed and played matches against Sweden and the Netherlands again during January 2019, and signed the USA, which was scheduled for May 2019. Other matches leading up to the World Cup had been the participation in the Albertina Sisulu Centenary Challenge against Sweden during January 2019; and the Winnie Mandela Challenge against the Netherlands during January 2019. Currently Banyana Banyana was taking part in the Cyprus Cup, where they would play Finland, Korea DPR and the Czech Republic. A farewell match has also been arranged against Jamaica, who are also a World Cup qualifier, on 7 April 2019 in Durban. This match would coincide with the Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour, which would make its way through South Africa for the first time. Lastly, Banyana would head off the USA, participating in a friendly match on 12 May 2019. Around 24 May, they would go to France. On 1 June 2019, Banyana would play their last friendly match against Norway.

To end the Banyana Banyana preparations, SAFA was planning an extended team camp during April/May 2019, to allow the coach to better condition the players for the tournament in June 2019.

The table on page 42 of the presentation was an indication of the level and quality of the individual Banyana Banyana players. They were a very experienced group of players, who had decided to advance themselves, and SAFA has put its full support behind them.

Dr Jordaan said that players generally retire at the age of 35. In reality, after the player retires, with the time that they had spent and the money that they had generated, they must plan in such a way that it sustained them for the next 30 years. This was a tremendous challenge. SAFA therefore had to help the players skill themselves so that they had a second career after retirement. So, when looking at the list on page 42 of the presentation, there was an asterix next certain players’ names. and those that bear an asterix were placed in the school of excellence High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria, where they received an education.

The quality of the schooling had helped them to later go on to university, and some even went to study at institutions in the USA for further education. Some players were doing master’s degrees. When going down the list, one would see that there was a team of Banyana players of whom almost 60% were graduates, and others were continuing to study. SAFA had invested about R6.5 million per year in the High Performance Centre, which comes from the Legacy Trust, so they would be able to find a career once they retire.

Women’s football increasing, funding decreasing

Women’s soccer was the second biggest women’s’ sport in South Africa, at 439 000 players. Despite this, funding of women’s soccer was on the decrease.

Dealing with parastatal sponsorship, Telkom supports and funds the PSL; South African Airways (SAA) provides SAFA with donations with value in kind; Transnet,  zero; Eskom, zero; Denel, zero; and PetroSA, zero. The SABC had reduced its sponsorship from R110 million to R10 million, therefore there was no broadcast of Banyana Banyana, Bafana and under-20 matches.

Football was governed by SAFA in this country, and not by the dictates of FIFA. However, for background and referencing purposes on how the FIFA statutes work, this was important. Article 11 of the statutes basically state that any association that was responsible for organising football in their country may become a member of the association -- in this case, SAFA. Consequently, it goes on to state, it is recommended that all member associations involve all relevant stakeholders in football in their own structures. There could be only one member association per country. SAFA was the member association of this country.

Article 20 of the FIFA statutes go on to state that clubs, leagues or any other groups affiliated to a member association shall be subordinate to and recognised by that member association. Article 67 of the statutes state that FIFA, its member associations and the confederation are the original owners of all the rights emanating from competitions and other events coming under their respective jurisdictions, without any restriction as to content, time, place and law. Again, it is only that body that is allowed to decide on the distribution of that revenue.

SAFA believes that it has an asset going to waste in some ways within the South African sporting industry, because the “betting people” were allowed to do as they please. It had looked at a few things around the world and have come up with a few aspects.

The wagering strategy had been developing in Australia, and in respect to football, SAFA was of the view that it should be seeing a fair return for wagering on SAFA events. Over the last six years, the betting revenue had grown by 450% to R39.7 billion in South Africa, and it was growing at a rate of 32.9% per annum. SAFA estimates that the wagering operators generate approximately R3.5 billion. A large proportion, about 60-90% of this, was done on football matches in respect of international and domestic events. The betting agencies and operators did not contribute to sport in any way, whether in South Africa or internationally.

Australia had decided to require betting operators to be approved by the controlling body in respect of horse racing. Subsequently, it had been introduced to football, which meant that anyone who wanted to engage in betting, or using the product of football, required permission from the controlling body of football. In this case, it would be SAFA.

In terms of the integrity of the sport, the returns of the betting operators need to help regulate and make provision for its continuous integrity. In Australia, these betting operators must enter into an agreement with the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) before any bets could be accepted in respect of sporting activities taking place within the country and outside. Australia had realised that this expansion had provided them with much needed revenue in order to develop the game. If South Africa did not take action in respect of sports betting, it would find itself involved in many legal challenges.

Dr Jordaan said there was no legislation allowing for sport to benefit from sport-betting, and this was the issue it faced today. In France, the French Football Federation (FFF) benefits substantially, as was the case in many other countries. The FFF further benefits from donations made by their national lottery. In the South African context, this question must be addressed. SAFA’s argument was to focus specifically on women in sport, and the youth. The legislation must be amended, placing percentages and allocations of funds. One was talking about billions or rand, without tangible benefits, yet sport must be played in order to have betting. If there was no sport, there would be no bet. Therefore, there must be an investment in that which gives one basis to generate money in the first place.

There was a need to amend the legislation, to ensure that sport in general benefited, and as the bulk of the betting was on football, that football specifically benefited.

Discussion

The Chairperson said the presentation had ended on a very crucial point, indicating that this Committee should interact with the Committee on Trade and Industry. This Committee would try and persuade the Minister of Sport and Recreation to consider SAFA’s request.  Even if it was left with only a month, it would leave the legacy of this presentation to those who would comprise this Committee after the election, and would try and persuade it to amend the legislation.

Mr D Bergman (DA) said South Africa had a flagship opportunity to promote an all-female team and showcase them all over the world. There was no justification for the disparity between female and male soccer players, and there should be no reason why they were earning less than their male counterparts. He congratulated the SAFA board on its initiatives..

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) also commended SAFA, and said he had just been listening to what he thought was a clip of Serena Williams, where she was talking about the treatment of women in sport. When they wanted to be treated equally with men, they were described as mad; when they wanted to compete with men, they said they were crazy. He lamented the treatment that was Caster Semenya had had to endure.

However, if one contrasts Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana, they were not the same. At a certain point, he had heard that the viewership of Banyana Banyana was around 1.5 million on the SABC, which he felt was positive, but then one had the opposite when it came to attending Banyana matches at the stadium. One did not get the same numbers, and he wondered why this was the case.

In England, one found women watching every soccer game -- men’s soccer games. One wonders what it was that the people of England had done. South Africa did not encourage its women to watch games. He know for a fact that when Banyana Banyana played, men were going to watch, as would females.

He had also heard that if each province were to commit something like R2.5 million, SAFA would run a successful league. The real challenge was in the legislation, to provide for sports to benefit from soccer betting.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) said she was looking forward to 2022 and the one million female soccer players, but she also agreed with the previous speaker, that female players must be treated equally. How many provinces and regions were involved in football at the school level? How many were in the Gauteng Province? She was from Gauteng, and would like to get involved in the schools after politics. How many of the soccer legends were attending schools? She remembered some time ago the soccer legends were supposed to visit the schools, but she had not seen them there. What was the minimum qualification for a female coach? If one had to use criteria, what would the criteria be to become a football player? Was the legacy fund for males and females? What was the strategy for Bafana and Banyana to be “the top of the crop”?

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) said that although he appreciated the progress made with two female presidents, he wondered how long it would be before they reached parity. He thought they should introduce targets. Judging from the slides presented representing the regions, the majority were male and very few were female. It would remain a concern if they were not going to address this. He hoped there was parity in terms of payment between males and females. The only challenge should be sponsorship, as SAFA should be in a position to introduce parity. He was happy that the NWL would be introduced, which was long overdue. This would grow the brand for women as soccer players.  

He urged SAFA to fight with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to ensure it was given appropriate broadcast coverage

The Chairperson said she supported the Member’s suggestions and comments. She wanted to thank SAFA for the work it was doing, because there were only two or three provinces who had allocated a budget for sport -- the Western Cape, Free State and Kwazulu-Natal. If one looked at school sport, both this Committee and SAFA did not see the role that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was playing. The Committee had indicated to its Department that the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Departments of Basic Education and Sport and Recreation should not just be on paper. There was a need to perform oversight of this MOU, which had been signed.

Regarding the SABC, they would have to wait on the appointment of the new board of directors. The educational programmes that SAFA was heading was vital, as when they did not play soccer any longer, they needed to be employed. Despite having a small budget, sport was vital to combating the growth in substance abuse.

SAFA’s response

Ms Ledwaba said she would just like to indicate that it was not by mistake that they could see a list of graduates in the presentation document. It was an investment that SAFA had made since 2004. It was an investment. The members of the then SAFA should be applauded for establishing an academy for girls at the High Performance Centre, starting with 24 girls in 2004. Today, over 100 girls had passed through the academy. SAFA had invested over R7 Million per annum, since 2004. This investment was not due to sponsors, but rather was a conscious decision taken by SAFA in its promotion of women’s football. When one looks at the continent, most countries do not have soccer leagues. Players play only for the national team. Statistically, since the beginning of the African Women’s Tournament from 1991, only 16 of the 52 countries have participated, South African being one of the countries who were repeat participants,.

Regarding the R3 million per province, SAFA had made submissions to the Minister and the Director General (DG) of the Department of Sport and Recreation on whether it could fund the NWL, remembering that South Africa was the first African nation to establish a NWL. SAFA had created an opportunity where all the competing teams would travel to Polokwane and play over a weekend, after which they would travel to a different province. For this reason, they had indicated to the Minister, that if the MEC for Sport and Recreation in a particular province would be able to accommodate the teams that were attending, that would be helpful. The value added would be enormous.

A Member had also spoken about the minimum coaching courses for women and men, this was why the last time SAFA had appeared before the Committee, it had referred to what it had presented at CAF, discussing the topic of “how to change women’s football on the continent”. One of the issues arising from this presentation was whether women should be assessed and be able to participate in men’s football. As indicated, it was only in South Africa where women were seen who were FIFA accredited and participating in the PSL. Female coaches had taken Banyana to the World Cup and the Olympics. SAFA was very confident, despite there still being much to be done in terms of women’s football. It believed that SA was taking the lead. This was why the president had invited France and SA to the first symposium on women’s football, where SAFA would be presenting, showing what SA had already done in terms of women’s football.

Ms Nomonde Ndyoko, SAFA Vice President: Western Cape, said she felt there had been considerable progress in the area of gender representation. She agreed that attendance at women’s football games needed more support from women, who should be supporting each other. She expressed appreciation to Sasol for its long-standing sponsorship, and referred to the MOU between the DBE and the Department of Sport, saying that in a nutshell, football was dependent on the grassroots level participation. Children from the townships came from difficult backgrounds, and if there was no football or any other sport, they would have nowhere else to go.

The Chairperson asked what SAFA’s policy was on the issue of girls playing with boys in the same team. Something had to be done. The distinction between Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana told one where they came from in the context of gender identities. There should be a policy in place, so that SAFA did not have to face any legal issues in the future.

She also wanted a session in relation to another matter, in the context of rugby, as the provincial rugby leadership was facing a problem with regard to stadiums. One could not have stadiums that could not be used. Those facilities were for the use of everyone.

She asked how much SAFA would be spending in preparation for the Women’s World Cup.  

Mr Paul said the estimated figure was R20 million. This did not include what had been spent during the previous years.

The meeting was adjourned.

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