'A vanity project’: Why government pulled the plug scuppering Women’s World Cup bid

SAFA President Danny Jordaan during the SAFA Press Conference on 08 May 2023 at SAFA House.
SAFA President Danny Jordaan during the SAFA Press Conference on 08 May 2023 at SAFA House.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The government’s reluctance to provide guarantees and a breakdown in relations between South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan and sports minister Zizi Kodwa are among the reasons believed to have led to South Africa spectacularly pulling out of the 2027 Fifa Women’s World Cup bid on Friday.

For a country to host a World Cup, the government is responsible for the delivery of a number of guarantees.

These include access to the country, a supportive financial environment, facilities, safety and security, healthcare services, transport, accommodation and telecommunications.   

World Cups can cost a country tens of millions or even billions of rand in spend on building or improving infrastructure and organisation and this is one of the key reasons this mission was aborted. 

Kodwa is holding a press conference on Tuesday to address a variety of issues involving Netball South Africa (NSA), Boxing SA (BSA) and a report on the Eminent Persons Group on transformation.

The failed Women's World Cup bid is going to attract a lot of attention and questions at that press conference. 

A number of people with knowledge of the developments told TimesLIVE on Saturday the government was non-committal because of an increasing lack of confidence in Safa.

One of the informants said the government has been disappointed with the slow pace of the development of women’s football in the country where there is no professional league.

“There are a lot of things that happened behind the scenes over the past few months and weeks and there is a strong sense that government didn’t have confidence that Safa or the local organising committee (LOC) will be able to pull this thing off,” said one of the sources who did not want to be named.

“The other thing that seriously embarrassed government is what happened at Tsakane Stadium on the eve of Banyana Banyana’s departure to the World Cup.”

Banyana boycotted their final warm-up game in June before their departure for the 2023 Women's World Cup over the poor choice of venue and a contractual standoff with Safa. 

Another informant alleged the World Cup bid was an attempt by Jordaan to divert attention from some of the problems that Safa has faced over the past few months and years.

“We all know that things have not been rosy at Safa House over the past few years. Tebogo Motlanthe left [as CEO] in May after he realised the organisation has too many problems.

“One of the questions that the minister must ask Safa is how much has been spent on this bid because some of the people [Safa officials] spent the whole month sitting in Australia and New Zealand during the Women’s World Cup.

“If we are to be honest, this was a vanity project of one man and it was destined to fail from the beginning.”

In their statement issued late on Friday night, Safa said they would consider bidding for the 2031 tournament when Fifa announces the call for countries to bid for that event.

Safa explained the time frame for developing the 2027 Fifa Women’s World Cup bid has been challenging and that this does not diminish their commitment to women’s football.

Safa head of communication Mninawa Ntloko was not available for comment and sport ministry media liaison officer Litha Mpondwana said Kodwa will address this issue on Tuesday at a press conference. 


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