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Is criticism of South Africa cup final venues based on myth or fact?

The decision to take the 2018 MTN8 final between SuperSport United and Cape Town City to the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban has drawn some criticism from fans, more because of the frequency that the FIFA 2010 World Cup venue is used for prestigious fixtures.

There is a perception that Durban gets more than its fair share of cup finals, while it has also been a favourite venue for Bafana Bafana in recent years.

With regards the national team it is quite simple. Municipalities bid to host Bafana Bafana matches and it usually goes to the highest bidder.

Durban's eThekwini Municipality has shown the most appetite -- and the deepest pockets -- in this regard, though it appears SAFA will take the next two home Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Seychelles and Nigeria to the FNB Stadium in Soweto as they try to gain the advantage of altitude for those crucial fixtures.

With cup finals there are a number of criteria that need to be looked at. It is true that in many instances, but not always, municipalities bid to host these games as well, but it is also not that simple.

The venue must be in a neutral province and be as close as possible to equidistant for the two teams to travel and, of course, the venue must be available.

In the example of the MTN8 that only really left two venues, with Gauteng and the Western Cape ruled out, and Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West offering an unfair advantage to SuperSport United in terms of travel.

The Springboks are playing a Rugby Championship test against Australia at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on the same evening, which ruled out that venue.

Durban and Bloemfontein were then realistically the only two options and it fell to the coastal town to win the rights. It should be noted that both clubs must agree on a venue, and in this instance it appears they were both happy to return to the Moses Mabhida Stadium, the scene of their 2017 final in the same competition.

The domestic cup competitions all have their own wishes in this regard too - the Nedbank Cup organisers have made a point of taking their finals around the country, even playing a rare decider in Cape Town earlier this year.

Telkom Knockout organisers prefer more compact venues when one of the so-called 'Big Three' are not involved, which is why they took their 2017 final between Bidvest Wits and Bloemfontein Celtic to the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban.

So is it myth or reality that the Moses Mabhida Stadium has a disproportionate number of finals? What is the truth about domestic cup final venues since the start of the 2010/11 when all the FIFA World Cup venues were in full operation?

Of the 24 finals played across all three competitions, the Moses Mabhida Stadium has hosted 10 of those, including at least one every season.

FNB Stadium, the country's nominated national stadium, has hosted two finals (and none since 2011), while the nearby Orlando Stadium has also hosted three.

The Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit has had three, while Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth and Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane have hosted two, with one each for the Cape Town Stadium and Princess Magogio Stadium in Durban.

So it is a disproportionately high figure for Moses Mabhida Stadium compared to the rest, but it is also usually the best option given the participating teams.

SOUTH AFRICAN DOMESTIC CUP FINALS SINCE 2010/11

2010/11
MTN8: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Telkom Knockout: FNB Stadium, Soweto
Nedbank Cup: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

2011/12
MTN8: FNB Stadium, Soweto
Telkom Knockout: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Nedbank Cup: Orlando Stadium, Soweto

2012/13
MTN8: Orlando Stadium, Soweto
Telkom Knockout: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Nedbank Cup: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

2013/14
MTN8: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Telkom Knockout: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Nedbank Cup: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

2014/15
MTN8: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Telkom Knockout: Orlando Stadium, Soweto
Nedbank Cup: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

2015/16
MTN8: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Telkom Knockout: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Nedbank Cup: Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane

2016/17
MTN8: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Telkom Knockout: Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane
Nedbank Cup: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

2017/18
MTN8: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Telkom Knockout: Princess Magogo Stadium, Durban
Nedbank Cup: Cape Town Stadium

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