Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula should stop tweeting and change the shabby treatment of women footballers, the Economic Freedom Fighters said in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Speaking about South Africa’s national women’s football team, Banyana Banyana, EFF MP Hlengiwe Hlophe said the team’s striker Portia Modise retired with very little to show last year. This was in spite of her being the first African soccer player ever to score more than 100 goals.
“She was treated badly by [the SA Football Association (Safa)],” Hlophe said ahead of the adoption of the Commission for Gender Equality’s [CGE] public hearing report on Gender Transformation in South African Football. “Stop thinking like a celebrity,” Hlophe said to Mbalula, who sat across the way from her. “He is tweeting [a] 24-hour service. He is even tweeting wrong things that is not supposed to be tweeted so he must start thinking like a minister,” she said.
Neglected women footballers
Hlophe said that Safa and sponsors neglected women footballers, and described it as “painful”. DA MP Solly Malatsi said it was unfair that women football players received about R5 000 in prize money, but men got between R30 000 to R50 000. There was also no professional league for women footballers, he said, adding that South Africa’s women’s team Banyana Banyana won more matches than Bafana Bafana.
“In this day and age pursuing sports in itself can be a career,” he said. The CGE hosted the hearings after a complaint that Safa was not paying attention to women’s football and that there was slow gender transformation in Safa and other federations.
In its report, the portfolio committee on sport noted that budget allocation to women’s football was around 8% of the total budget of Safa. It said corporate South Africa and sports federations should show an interest in women’s football and invest in it more. The committee recommended that there be “robust reporting” on gender transformation in the department and it wants all sports federations to adhere to gender equality legislation and international commitments. The report was adopted by the MPs in the National Assembly. – Jenni Evans, News24