Bafana’s win could be a hollow victory

2013-11-24 10:00

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New rankings will be out on Thursday

Has R50?million gone down the drain?

That is how much the World and European champions, Spain, allegedly demanded as an all-inclusive match fee to play against Bafana Bafana.

The money would have included their stay at the plush DaVinci Hotel in Sandton, travel costs and their appearance.

A source close to the negotiations told City Press that the top-ranked team did not come cheap.

SA Football Association (Safa) spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi disputed the figure but could not give an exact one, saying only that “contracts between the respective federations are confidential”.

Chimhavi said Safa would have recouped the money from the broadcast deal, hence the 9pm slot to accommodate prime time viewing in Spain. About 60?000 spectators attended the match on Tuesday night.

“Although we don’t have the exact figures, this was the most watched game and whatever Safa paid will be recouped from the broadcast deal,” said Chimhavi.

According to media reports in Spain, the game broadcast by Cuatro Television was the most watched on the day and collected a more than 23.6% screen share, with more than four million viewers.

The source said government had contributed about R2?million to Safa.

But while it was a great move to invite Spain, it might turn out to be a massive waste expense if Fifa downgrades the game to a mere practice match after Spain flouted the rules by introducing a seventh substitution late in the game.

More embarrassing would be the fact that President Jacob Zuma and his predecessor Thabo Mbeki were at the game and congratulated Bafana on their hard-won 1-0 victory.

The status of the victory still remains unclear five days later.

Fifa is yet to classify the game and rule on whether it would be downgraded to a mere practice match or retain its status as an “A” friendly match.

Fifa spokesperson Aloïs Hug told City Press that “a game between national teams in which one or both of them make more than six substitutions can’t be considered as an A match and, hence, can’t count for Fifa/Coca-Cola ranking purposes”.

Hug further said: “However, we stress again that we are still in the process of gathering the official reports of the game in order to analyse possible next steps.”

The result of the match does not appear in the Fifa website’s points calculator section – a mechanism used by the world football governing body to rank its affiliated national teams.

All the other nations that played in the just concluded Fifa matches have their last two results listed, yet Bafana’s column only shows their 3-0 victory over Swaziland last Friday.

Downgrading the game would mean no caps will be awarded and will have no bearing on the Fifa rankings.

South Africa are currently ranked joint 61st in the world with Libya and beating the top-ranked team would have earned them ranking points. The new Fifa rankings will be released Thursday.

Chimhavi stressed that Safa did not transgress any rules and said he was confident Fifa would classify the game accordingly.

“We abided by all the rules and regulations. As far as we are concerned, the result stands. An error by the referee shouldn’t disadvantage and detract from what was an amazing performance and result,” he said.

All eyes are now on Fifa.

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