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Pay Banyana – they deserve it!

Danny Jordaan and his cohort have been giving Banyana glowing reviews but it’s not translating to big machankuras for the team. They’ve certainly done all they needed to do to attract sponsorships and better salaries
Fri, Oct 22, 2021

Safa president Danny Jordaan gets a twinkle in his eyes when he waxes lyrical about the recent achievements of Banyana Banyana, so much so that a joke started doing the rounds that Banyana Banyana can beat the rickety Bafana Bafana. The joke went as far as suggesting that perhaps the girls should replace Bafana when they play their Afcon qualifiers – Bafana failed to qualify for the 2023 Afcon tournament to be held in Cameroon, yet again.

Unlike Bafana, Banyana’s achievements in the last couple of years are no laughing matter. Banyana are on an impressive upward trajectory and are fast emerging as the South African Football Association’s flagship team in the international sporting arena. Banyana players are also in demand in Europe and the girls are on a quest to dominate Africa.

And if Banyana continue with their impressive growth, sponsors will be left with no choice but to trip over themselves to get a piece of the pie, and then hopefully the big elephant in the room can finally be dealt with.

The elephant in this case is the issue of salary disparities between Banyana and Bafana players. Such is the inequalities that Banyana salaries are still kept hush hush. They only make decent money from bonuses if they qualify for major events like the Olympic Games, the Fifa World Cups and the CAF Women’s Afcon – all the while Bafana players get a sugar-coated R60,000 for a win and R30,000 for a draw.

“Banyana is on top of our priorities. With Banyana, the challenge comes with funding and sponsorship. Bafana gets much bigger deals and we are working around the clock to get bigger deals for the women’s teams.

“We seriously need to equalise the deficit and what we’ve done is that we are now giving Banyana the same daily allowance we are giving Bafana. It’s a start and a step in the right direction,” Safa’s chief financial officer Gronie Hluyo told Sunday World in a recent interview.

According to Jordaan, Safa is on the verge of finalising and renewing their monetary partnership with Sasol and Hollywoodbets. The two companies have been pumping money into the association for some time, keeping SA Women’s football afloat and providing the players with a decent living.

And while there are no guarantees in football, it’s time for Safa to use a bit of intuition and think out of the box in balancing the scales. In a country and society where women are still largely excluded, patriarchy cannot continue unabated.

Underperforming male teams cannot continue raking in salaries that are tenfold to women’s teams who are burning the scene and winning big accolades. For instance, Safa can copy the USA model where “they are offering identical contract proposals because they firmly believe that the best path forward for all involved, and for the future of the sport in the US, is a single pay structure for both men’s and women’s teams,” according to the US Soccer Federation.

The federation and football bodies in the States share and spread money from the sponsors accordingly to both men’s and women’s games. In that way, the disproportion is eliminated and salaries can be negotiated in the same manner as in the business sector.

The Americans have been fighting for equal pay for years, and the US men players believe that the women deserve it. And according to recent reports, “proposals will make both teams among the highest paid senior national team players in the world while providing a revenue sharing structure that would allow all parties to begin anew.”

The US, always trying to save the world, are also allegedly calling upon the players unions for both teams (male and female) to push FIFA to equalise prize money for the men’s and women’s World Cups, something they say would have greatly benefited American soccer in recent years.

Banyana suffered a minor setback when they lost their Cosafa Women’s Cup after being knocked out in the semi-finals two weeks ago. They are now taking part in the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers against Mozambique. After their first leg (on Wednesday 20 October), they will play the return leg in Soweto on 26 October. The AWCON is scheduled to take place in Morocco between July and August 2022 after being previously cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Our team Banyana Banyana is now ranked number three on the African continent and they played in the Aisha Buhari Cup and defeated the number one ranked country in the continent Nigeria. And we did not bring all our stars from Europe, about six top players playing in Europe,” Jordaan said.

The women are expected to go far in this tournament. In fact, they are already touted to go toe-to-toe against their nemesis Nigeria in the final. So, this tournament is going to go a long way in proving that they too deserve the big machankuras.