Parliament's tourism committee to question Tottenham deal

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Spurs players celebrating scoring during a recent FA Cup match.
Spurs players celebrating scoring during a recent FA Cup match.
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  • The National Assembly's Portfolio Committee on Tourism will meet with SA Tourism on Tuesday about its proposed sponsorship deal with English Premier League side, Tottenham Hotspur.
  • The proposed deal, worth almost R1bn, has been the cause of much controversy.
  • The DA will ask whether Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was aware of the deal and request the exact figures involved.

Parliament will demand answers from South African Tourism (SAT) on a proposed deal with English football team, Tottenham Hotspur.

The DA's MP on the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Manny de Freitas, confirmed on Friday that the committee would meet on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Daily Maverick broke the story on the proposed a three-year deal worth £42.5 million (about R900 million) with the North London-based club, starting at the beginning of the 2023/24 English Premier League season and ending at the end of the 2026/27 season.

Public sentiment in South Africa was largely that it would be a very costly own goal and that Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu should be red-carded.

Sisulu, however, denied any involvement in the deal. Her spokesperson, Mpumzi Zuzile, said proposals were received by SA Tourism and processed by a project team before they were sent through to the executive committee and presented to the SAT board.

"With regard to this matter, Minister Sisulu is still awaiting a report and to be briefed by the SAT board as they are independent and take their own decisions on various matters. It is mischievous to relate this to the imminent Cabinet reshuffle," Zuzile said.

On Thursday, SA Tourism's acting chief executive officer, Themba Khumalo, defended the proposed deal and said they expected backlash.

READ | SA Tourism defends 'new, innovative' R900m Spurs proposal after backlash: 'We were prepared for it'

He said the Spurs deal was purely a marketing one aimed at accessing the vast English Premiership audience.

"It's not about football, but getting to the aggregated audiences and the followers of football," Khumalo said.

De Freitas said in a statement that he was left with more questions than answers after Khumalo's briefing, and would use the committee meeting to "interrogate SA Tourism about the pending deal".

"The DA will demand answers on, amongst other things, if Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was aware of the deal? We also want a confirmation of the exact figures involved in this deal," he said.

"Sports teams are not required to promote South Africa, rather load shedding should be resolved which will, in turn, easily bring tourism back to our shores."

Tottenham Hotspurs' trophy cabinet last saw a major title in 1991, when it won the FA Cup. The team is fifth in the English Premier League, 14 points behind league leaders Arsenal, their North London rivals.

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