Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

How a Bafana welcome turned into an EFF rally

If the EFF had not shown up, the welcoming committee for Bafana would have been all-but non-existent.

A sea of red greeted Bafana Bafana yesterday as they arrived home at the OR Tambo International Airport, with bronze medals proudly around their necks, from the Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast.

‘Why red and not a sea of patriotic green and gold?’ you may well ask. Well, some clever politicking from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) turned the event into more of an EFF rally than a Bafana welcoming committee, with just a smattering of South African flags and Bafana jerseys present in the throng of EFF colour.

Even EFF leader Julius Malema was there, greeted by Bafana and Sundowns star Teboho Mokoena as “my president”, which can hardly have gone down too well with Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa or Safa president Danny Jordaan, who led the team out into the arrivals area.

One could criticise the EFF for grandstanding on what was supposed to be a sporting stage, or call this brilliant opportunism. But as Malema pointed out later, the simple fact is that if the EFF had not shown up, the welcoming committee for Bafana would have been all-but non-existent.

Safa’s organisational blunders

This is certainly partly down to the team’s arrival in Johannesburg at 4am. The South African Football Association could surely have arranged for a later arrival time, to enable more people to come and welcome the senior national team of the country’s most beloved sport.

A message that people could get the Gautrain to the airport for free was sent out way too late, with a starting time for the first train (around 5.30am) that at the time seemed like it would probably miss the team’s arrival.

As it was, Bafana’s players came into the arena at closer to 6am, with SABC presenter Andile Ncube doing his best to get a singalong out of the attending fans. There was hope expressed that the crowd at the airport would translate into more spectators attending Bafana’s home matches, especially after their achievements in the Ivory Coast.

On this evidence, however, that could also depend on whether the EFF and Malema decide to turn up. 

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