The big Afcon rip-off

2012-04-07 18:53

Preparations for hosting the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations are in chaos. With only eight months to go, government has not signed the guarantees needed to host such an international event.

This startling revelation was made by Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula in an interview with City Press on Friday.

It has also emerged that Rustenburg is the only city that had signed the Host City Agreement (HCA) while others were deliberating and asking questions.

At the centre of the stalling by cities is the fact that government should give guidance on such matters and that the draft agreement was too open-ended, exposing the cities to costs that could easily escalate to about ­R80 million per city.

Mbalula confirmed that he had held a meeting with the Provincial Sports MECs and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) this past week to discuss the matter.

“These were consultative meetings as I am gathering information so that I can inform Cabinet, which will take the decision to sign the guarantees,” he said.

He refused to be drawn into discussing the HCA, saying: “I can’t comment on the host city agreement. For me the first issue is to take all these documents to government. CAF has to come to the party and tell us what their contribution is. Only then will government come to the party with the required guarantees,” Mbalula said.

A delegate from one of the cities who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “Anyone who signs this agreement as it is can easily go to jail. The timing is bad as all provincial and municipality budgets have been finalised. There is no city that has R30-R40 million sitting there for an event that is just jumped on them.”

The LOC has estimated that hosting the event will cost each city about R22 million.

The cities will have to bear all the costs, including accommodating four teams of 30 players each, CAF officials, referees, ground transport and hospitality.

And according to the HCA, host cities will have to top up any shortfall at the end of the tournament.

So far, the only guaranteed income the cities can make is from ticket sales, from which “Host Cities will be entitled to 25% of the net ticket revenue for group stage matches played in their City,” according to correspondence from the Afcon 2013 LOC.

Another thorny issue that cities are up in arms about is centralised procurement.

Cities are expected to put an unknown amount into a pot that will be run by the LOC to pay for, among other things:

» Accommodation for teams and referees;

» Ground transportation of teams and referees;

» Event security services at the stadiums;

» Overlays where applicable;

» Catering; and

» Tournament look and feel branding.

“Cities cannot give their money to the LOC to spend as they wish because cities have better relationships with the suppliers in their areas,” said our source.

LOC chief executive Mvuzo Mbebe, who met Mbalula on Thursday, said he was positive government would give the required guarantees in the next two weeks.

He said he briefed the minister on their signing of the Organisation Association Agreement with CAF on Wednesday.

“My understanding is that the guarantees are going to be reviewed and the Cabinet has the next two weeks to go through them.

“Remember, the government had given support for the 2015 tournament and what is left now is for government to qualify what those guarantees mean,” said Mbebe.

He said hosting the event would cost each host city about R22 million and also acknowledged receipt of a letter from the Mangaung Municipality raising concerns about the HCA.

The Polokwane Municipality said the HCA terms were not favourable to them and they were not happy with centralised procurement.Community Development Director Ndavhe Ramakuela said they had not signed the HCA.

Grant Pascoe of the City of Cape Town said they too had not signed the agreement. He said they were still engaged in talks with their technical team and the LOC.

He said they estimated about R27 million to host a number of games but “there are some other costs that the city will have to cover”.

CAF vice-president Suketu Patel said the organisation – which has cellular network company Orange, Standard Bank, Pepsi and Adidas as sponsors for the event as well as French company Sports Five as a broadcast partner – will commit $6 or $7 million (about R50 million) to the host federation.

Caf is also responsible for prize money of about R76 million.

“This might not be enough, hence the host country must meet certain requirements and guarantees. CAF asks for federations to bid and those that bid know what is expected,” he said.

While the HCA states that “cities are encouraged to source additional funding from the government and private sector” this might prove to be difficult, as they are not allowed to have partners who are Caf’s competitors.

A clause that reads: “Those who assist financially are not allowed to promote or associate themselves with the tournament,” makes it even tougher.

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