The governing body of South Africa’s most popular sports code has joined calls to end the latest xenophobic attacks on foreigners in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
With players from around the continent competing in the Premier Soccer League, the South African Football Association (Safa) during the weekend said it would continue to work on ensuring visitors from other nations were welcome in the country.
“We hosted the first African World Cup (in 2010), something which was celebrated all over the continent,” Safa said.
“Our continued progress in football is through Africa first, with Africa and with the support of Africa. We reiterate that we don’t want to let fellow Africans feel unwelcome in our country.”
The federation called on citizens to consider how many South Africans were being hosted elsewhere across the continent, including athletes and sport teams training and competing around Africa.
“They always welcome us with open arms in their own countries,” Safa said.
With football receiving public criticism of its own for recent violent attacks, after Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns fans were locked in a mass brawl in Pretoria earlier this month, Safa said it backed law enforcement in its attempt to bring xenophobic violence to an end.
Safa condemned the scourge of drugs and high crime rate in Gauteng, but insisted long-term issues could not be squarely blamed on foreigners.
“We call upon the police to stop the barbaric attacks on foreign nationals in our country,” Safa said.