- South African soccer fans were shocked when SAFA announced it had withdrawn the SABC’s broadcasting rights for all international football matches
- The blackout includes all Bafana-Bafana and Banyana-Banyana matches starting with Saturday’s AFCON qualifier
- SAFA said the blackout applied to all of the SABC’s platforms including radio, leaving millions of soccer fans in the dark
The South African Football Association (SAFA) announced it would, with immediate effect, retract the SABC’s broadcasting rights for all international matches. SAFA said the blackout would include all Bafana-Bafana and Banyana-Banyana matches and applied to all of the SABC’s platforms.
The shocking breakdown in relations between SAFA and the SABC means millions of South African soccer fans will have no way to access live coverage of Saturday’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier between Bafana and Seychelles.
SAFA said it had entered negotiations with the SABC in October 2017 for a new broadcasting deal but said it had rejected the SABC’s insulting financial offer because the amount put forward was so small that it actually made no commercial sense and was in real terms a non-offer.
Briefly.co.za gathered that SAFA said that even the old SABC which was run by the apartheid-era government had made far better financial offers to the national football association at the time and clearly had a better understanding of the importance and scale of broadcasting international football matches played in South Africa.
TimesLive.co.za reported that the statement released by SAFA went on to point out that Bafana-Bafana matches were by far the most watched local sporting event on TV and regularly drew audiences which exceeded four million viewers.
SAFA said it had noted recent interesting developments at the public broadcaster which included decisions to broadcast live English Premier Soccer League matches on Saturday afternoons as well as entering into an exclusive deal with Cricket SA to broadcast the new T20 league competition at the end of the year.
SAFA feels those deals which were hailed as game-changers by the SABC coupled with a hostile attitude towards international football was a calculated effort by the public broadcaster to engineer a financial crisis at SAFA.
The SABC still owes SAFA millions from the previous deal which ended in April. The public broadcaster narrowly avoided a blackout Bafana’s previous match against Libya after paying SAFA part of the reported R50 million which it owes.
SAFA said it would approach the government and ICASA to have its mandate to broadcast sports of national importance lifted.
The SABC said it had noted SAFA’s decision and disputed claims that it did not make a commercially viable offer to the football association. The SABC said despite its well-known financial crunch it had met all of its financial obligations and was willing to engage with SAFA to negotiate a speedy resolution to the impasse.
The match between Bafana and Seychelles will be broadcast on pay channel SuperSport4. The match will take place at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
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