Banyana labelled ‘mercenaries, traitors’ amid boycott

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  • Post published:July 3, 2023

Banyana Banyana were labelled “mercenaries” and “traitors” after they boycotted a warm-up against Botswana ahead of Women’s World Cup later this month.

Banyana Banyana (The Girls) said that the match location in the Tsakane township, 50 kilometres (31 miles) southeast of Johannesburg, was not good enough for international football.

They thought that playing on clay and grass could hurt them and keep them from going to the World Cup, which starts on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

Banyana also wanted to play their last game before flying to Oceania at a more prestigious place, like Soccer City in Johannesburg or Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

Officials called up players from a local league, including a 13-year-old, and pushed back the start of the game by one hour. Botswana took advantage of their opponents’ lack of experience to win 5-0.

South Africa’s loss to a team ranked 96 spots below them was a big embarrassment, especially since World Cup players had said before the boycott that they wanted to play “stronger” teams.

A senior South African Football Association (Safa) official, who asked to remain anonymous, told the weekly City Press that the players were acting like “mercenaries” and “traitors.”

Banyana are not happy with anything about the World Cup, including where it will be held and who they will play. They will be in Group G with Sweden, Argentina, and Italy.

The players say that FIFA will give them each $30,000 for being at the World Cup, but Safa won’t give them anything.

Banyana responded by refusing to sign pre-tournament contracts and telling the national association that they wanted an extra $21,000 per player.

Safa chief financial officer Gronie Hluyo said: “The players are being unreasonable in their demands.

“What FIFA has committed to giving them is way more than we have committed to any of the national teams previously, including Bafana Bafana (men’s senior national team).”

Hluyo said that each player at the 2019 World Cup in France, which South Africa lost to Spain, China, and Germany, got 20,000 rand, which was $1,500 at the time.

“What they are getting now is way more than that, but they are still not happy.” added the official.

The venue and bonus problems happened a week after reports that the World Cup team was chosen at a chaotic event in Pretoria.

Some political guests didn’t show up to an event that was shown live on SABC, the sound system broke down, and the stage screens stayed blank.

Banyana will leave for New Zealand in two groups on Wednesday and Thursday. Before playing Sweden in Wellington on July 23, they will play Costa Rica in their last warm-up game.

Photo by Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix