The news of the cancellation of the 2018 Carling Black Label Cup has ulterior motives written all over it, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
Okay, look I’m not crushed that the pre-season ‘drawby’ has been canned for a year. But the reason? Budweiser needing to have the full stage to show off their beer for the duration of the World Cup. Yeah, right.
The World Cup will have as much pull as it ever has. South Africa will not be there and that will detract from the local interest. The interest in the Soweto Derby, despite its lack of entertainment over the past few years continues to outweigh any sporting event in the country.
Why would AB InBev not want to sell tons of Black Label to supplement their sales of Budweiser? If you believe this is a conversation about corporates and beer then I’m afraid, we aren’t drinking at the same pub.
The cancellation surely has more to do with what happened last year. You remember it right? Remember it as the start of the 2017-18 ‘season of shame’ where lives were lost and the reputation of the game in South Africa took another massive hit.
What happened in the wake of that tragic day? A full soccer season later – minus one round – and the answer is absolutely nothing. In fact, things got worse. Way, way worse after those shocking scenes of a security guard getting kicked in the head. Somehow the PSL has come out of it without retribution of world football – in terms of the political landscape, football in this country is in crisis. The powers that be are lucky the world is waiting on the World Cup because surely, Fifa should be stepping in to help safeguard the lives of innocent soccer-loving fans in SA?
Black Label rightly came in for some criticism for their response to last year’s Derby disaster and one can only think that they are desperate to avoid another PR disaster.
There is more than beer at stake when it comes to this match and the circumstances it now finds itself in.
Let’s hope soccer-wise fans will be toasting to the success of a smooth World Cup. The cancellation of the start of the South African season, however, has left a far more bitter taste in the mouth.