Mbalula dismayed by Bafana rights statement
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said he was dismayed by “outrageous” statements reportedly made by ministry spokesman Paena Galane regarding senior soccer officials inflating the costs of airing Bafana Bafana games.
“An undue impression is created that Sport and Recreation South Africa has, even ahead of a process which the minister is outlining above, already drawn up conclusions unilaterally and single-handedly based on allegations and hearsay,” Mbalula said in a statement on Monday.
“It should be stated unequivocally that the ministry frowns upon such practice and tendencies.”
Earlier, the Sowetan newspaper reported that a sudden increase in broadcasting rights was the reason why the recent Bafana Bafana Afcon qualifier against Niger was not screened.
The paper said the company which held the rights, Sport Five, had clashed with the SABC, over allegations that costs to purchase the rights had been inflated from R3 million to R5 million. This was apparently as a result of demands by senior SA Football Association officials.
“It is the extra R2 million in particular that we want to discuss with Safa, that is the main thing that made us gatvol,” Galane was quoted saying by the Sowetan.
He reportedly said that after the SABC had concluded negotiating the rights to broadcast the match “certain people” went to Sports Five to inflate the figure.
“That is treason because they are working against the country,” Galane told the newspaper.
Mbalula said the statements made by Galane were regrettable and not reflective of his views on the matter.
“The minister would like to assure the South African community that he has taken serious exception of these un-mandated statements and inappropriate projection of a posture not indicative of the ministry position on this matter.” Mbalula apologised to Safa and other affected parties for the negative remarks made by Galane.
Safa on Monday said it refuted “malicious” allegations made on the broadcast rights matter.
“The allegations in today’s [Monday] media, maliciously alleging that unnamed officials of Safa had influenced the pricing of broadcast rights sold by Sport Five to the SABC... are not only baseless but libellous and are considered most damaging to the reputation of the association,” said Safa president Mandla Mazibuko.
“We are taking legal advice on these allegations and will pursue the matter through the correct channels.” Mazibuko said Safa would co-operate in any discussion or enquiry Mbalula wanted to engage in.