Government, Lotto, SABC bail out Safa

Last-minute funding to the tune of R8.5 million from the national lottery, a R1.5 million injection from the Gauteng government and the SABC’s agreement to broadcast the African Youth Championships matches saved the South African Football Association (Safa) some blushes.

In a move that surprised many here at home, Safa offered to bail out the Confederation of African Football (CAF) when it became obvious that Libya, who were the original chosen hosts, wouldn’t be in a position to host successfully.

By last week Safa did not have the required R20-million budget to stage the CAF event. However, frantic behind-­the-­scenes negotiations saw the provincial government, the lottery and the national broadcaster coming to the rescue.

The above financial figures were confirmed by a highly placed source who said the broadcast fee was still going to be finalised at a meeting with the SABC tomorrow.

An SABC insider informed City Press on Friday that the actual broadcast contract was yet to be signed.

When asked to confirm the breakdown of the tournament’s sponsorship, a cagey Safa acting chief executive, Pinky Lehoko, said: “The Gauteng department of sport have contributed as a partner.

All I can say is that Safa will deliver the tournament.”

As a cost-cutting measure, Safa will use its own buses to ferry players during the tournament.

Also, the association has dropped the Rand Stadium as host venue, leaving Dobsonville as the main stadium for the 14-day tourney.

Milpark Stadium will host two fixtures – the final group matches on Saturday and Sunday.

Many were surprised by Safa’s gesture, offering an olive branch to the continental football governing body, soon after its nominee, Danny Jordaan, was humiliated at the CAF elections in the Sudan capital, Khartoum, in February.

Safa had nominated Jordaan for positions on the CAF and Fifa executives but was he unfortunately beaten hands down in both polls.

 The SABC was the last in the line of rescuers, coming in as the official broadcaster of the under-20 tournament which gets under way today in Dobsonville, Soweto.

The public broadcaster will beam all the matches live, according to tournament director Russell Paul.

He told City Press on Friday: “The SABC will broadcast all the group stage matches live but might have to delay some broadcasts during the final group and the knockout stages, as matches will play simultaneously.”

The broadcast deal sees the kick-off times being brought forward from 2pm, with the opening match between South Africa and Mali now starting at 12pm today.

Paul added that match tickets would be distributed free of charge to fans in the areas surrounding Dobsonville.

» The Amajita (Under-20) camp was hit by a spate of disruptions leading to their Group A opening fixture today.

There was a silent tug-of-war involving the Under-20 team and the Under-23 side over the services of defender Doctor Mampuru.

Shakes Mashaba’s Under-23 side this week demanded that the 18-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns junior team player – who is also the team’s captain – report for their All Africa Games qualifier scheduled against Malawi today.

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