EDITORIAL | Now that SA is back in the game, the real test begins
It is up to the public to decide if we keep our seats in sports stadiums
On Tuesday SA sports fans could finally do what many love most. Waiting for this moment for more than a year and a half, a total of 2,000 jovial Bafana Bafana supporters, bearing colourful sport regalia, descended on FNB Stadium in Soweto to experience a World Cup qualifier game against Ethiopia first-hand. They appeared to be only a handful, almost swallowed up in Soccer City’s 90,000-plus capacity, but it was a huge milestone, thanks to an amendment to the Disaster Management Act allowing for vaccinated spectators at sporting venues.
Last night was the first test to see if this could work. The new rules will also be tried out by SA Rugby, whose administrators are aiming at getting fans to the Champions Match on November 6 where the Currie Cup XV will face off against Kenya. “This is the light at the end of the tunnel that our sport has desperately needed,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux, whose sporting body has gone through countless Covid-19 ordeals, including infections among players ahead of crucial matches, the uncertainties that plagued the British and Irish Lions tour and massive revenue losses since the virus emptied stadiums.
During a public hearing in January on Icasa’s proposal to limit broadcast rights and no longer permit exclusive deals, Roux spoke of desperate times. SA Rugby magazine (https://www.sarugbymag.co.za/roux-icasa-ruin-sa-rugby-1/) quoted him as saying: “Covid has pushed us into survival mode and had a massive detrimental effect. We’ve had to cut our budget by R1.2bn. It has made insolvency a real and present danger. We’re on the brink, and if we had not been able to capitalise on broadcast rights, we would have been bankrupt by now.”..