SAFA in extraordinary attack against SABC over broadcast rights
Millions of South Africans face a complete blackout of national team matches across all genders and age groups after the South African Football Association (SAFA) accused the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) of showing more respect for football under Apartheid.
In a strongly-worded statement released on Thursday, SAFA accused the SABC of making a "discourteous offer" for the rights to broadcast matches played in South Africa, adding "even the Apartheid-run SABC of old made a better offer to the association for their rights in this country".
SAFA has also accused the state broadcaster of trying to sabotage the football association in a bizarre new twist to the saga.
It means at this stage fans are unlikely to see the home and away Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Seychelles on free-to-air TV, or next month's vital home clash with Nigeria.
"SAFA can confirm that despite it having opened discussions with the SABC as early as October 2017 to negotiate a new deal on similar terms and conditions as the immediate past agreement, the SABC decided to make a discourteous offer to SAFA for international football matches to be played in South Africa," the statement read.
"SAFA rejected this offer outright and places on record that the offer is so minuscule that it amounts to an effective no offer. It is common cause that there is no other sport in South Africa that draws a larger TV audience attendance than Bafana Bafana - in excess of 4-million viewers regularly."
Amid their inability to secure a deal, SAFA have also hit out at the SABC for acquiring the rights to broadcast English Premier League matches.
"SAFA has been repeatedly told by SABC management that it is in no position to conclude a contract /contracts whilst it is in a financial state of disarray. However, it is now patently clear that the SABC actions over the past few weeks in signing deals with EPL and CSA [Cricket South Africa] is calculated towards engineering the financial downfall of SAFA, which the association will not stand for."
SAFA also accused the SABC of breaking an agreement that allowed the broadcaster to flight the Nations Cup qualifier against Libya last month.
"SAFA, in good faith, allowed the broadcast of the last AFCON qualifier vs Libya to be broadcast by the SABC, despite there being no contract in place - but on the promise and agreement that a contract would be concluded prior to the next Bafana Bafana AFCON qualifier, being the Seychelles match at FNB Stadium on Saturday 13 October 2018 at 15h00," the statement said.
SAFA confirmed they have written to both the SABC and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa [ICASA], and informed the Ministry of Sport and Recreation South Africa and the Ministry of Communications, that it wishes the organisations to issue SAFA with a letter that will relieve the SABC of its obligations towards Sports of National Interest, which would consequently allow SAFA to conclude an agreement with another broadcaster for the SAFA rights.
At present, SAFA has to offer these games to the SABC so that they are available to the general public.
The upcoming matches will be shown on the SuperSport satellite channel, which is a subscription service, as they purchase the feed from the Confederation of African Football's partner broadcaster Sport Five.
SAFA also appeared to suggest that they would block the SABC from providing radio coverage of national team games in the future, still a popular medium in South Africa.
"With the SABC showing no meaningful interest in concluding an agreement on terms and conditions that would give respect to the SAFA Rights, the association regrets to inform the public that all future international football matches involving national teams - the u23, u20 and u17 - as well as Regional Football Championships run by SAFA, will not be broadcast on any SABC platforms," the statement concluded.
Phone calls to the SABC for comment went unanswered.