CAPE TOWN –The current blackout of soccer matches on SABC television and radio is a terrible indictment of South African football – and a shameful way to treat fans of the “beautiful game”.
Worst of all, everyone seems to be blaming everyone else for the impasse. The cash-strapped SABC says they cannot enter into agreements which are not commercially viable. This comes after the broadcaster announced it had declined a R280m deal with SuperSport to screen PSL matches, claiming it was not viable.
The PSL keeps repeating that chairman Irvin Khoza is the only man who can comment on the matter, yet he was not available for comment on the farcical events surrounding the MTN8 situation last week, where SABC presenters could not mention the opening round of MTN8 games or even provide updates on the scores.
The PSL sponsors, including MTN and Absa, have voiced their concerns, but say their hands are tied and they cannot get directly involved, despite losing millions of rands in potential advertising revenue.
The simple fact of the matter is the majority of football-loving supporters in our country cannot afford DStv decoders. The result is that football, supposed to be a game for all the people, is now watched by the rich people.
One could make a strong argument that the rot really started when the public broadcaster lost the right to local soccer matches in the first place. Soccer is not an elite sport, and it should not be carried exclusively on any form of elite media.
A week or so ago Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa entered the fray, saying he will convene an urgent meeting with the SABC SuperSport the Premier Soccer League and the Department of Communications to discuss the blackout.
The sooner that meeting takes place the better. The minister must crack the whip and ensure that a deal is struck that benefits all South Africans.
Because right now the beautiful game is very far from beautiful in our country.