Bafana Bafana may become the kids whose parents didn’t show up to watch them play

Bafana Bafana’s 2018 World Cup qualifier match against Burkina Faso is fast approaching and South Africans aren’t buying tickets to watch the match. Ticket sales are so low, it is the lowest attendance to an official international match.

So far, the South African Football Association (SAFA) has managed to sell only 300 tickets for the 90 000 seater FNB Stadium. With such low ticket sales, SAFA has resorted to giveaways and prizes to fill up the stadium. Newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations were recruited to push tickets. Even a political party started its own campaign.

Today, The Star newspaper was giving away two tickets with each newspaper bought on the street.

Even the commander-in-chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, initiated a campaign to fill up the stadium on Saturday. The party is giving away a whole 1 000 tickets to learners and Bafana Bafana supporters. They published a statement urging South Africans to support its national team. “Bafana Bafana has a great history of making us proud as a nation. It is not the time to give up on them. In fact, when they face difficulties, it is when we must raise the bar of our support even higher,” they said.

Bafana Bafana’s poor performance is one of the reasons why people aren’t coming out in full support. As one tweeter said, Bafana Bafana tickets should be free until they start winning matches.

Soccer Laduma journalist Joe Crann told The Daily Vox Bafana Bafana’s poor performances are a reason why people aren’t turning up to their matches. He said Bafana Bafana’s current situation has left fans disillusioned. The same team that won 2-0 against Nigeria suffered a double defeat against Cape Verde which gives fans nothing much to cheer about. “The fans look at that and question their patriotism… – that leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth,” Crann said.

A caller on Kaya FM won two tickets to the game and allegedly turned them down. The taste must be really sour.

Crann also pointed out that they didn’t adequately market the match. The game is an important World Cup qualifier but was marketed as just another game. “People aren’t given enough reasons to want to go. If it’s just a football game, you’re less likely to get people there than if you manage to create a full event out of it,” said Crann.

One tweeter said Bafana Bafana should be the ones paying him to watch their matches.

The ticket prices were also an issue. For a team that needs as many supporters in the stadium as possible, Crann said the initial ticket prices were too high. “Ticket prices around R100, I think that’s crazy. For a team that needs their support and needs to fill a stadium, it’s baffling to me why you wouldn’t make the tickets as cheap as you can.”

SAFA cut the ticket prices in half and offered those who had paid the full price a free beer at the stadium. Even with the changes, South Africans were still uninterested in attending the match. One person who had bought The Star gave back the free tickets.

The lack of support, Crann said, isn’t because South Africans have given up on the young ones but are despondent. Crann said it’s because South African football fans operate in extremes. “When you look at the national team, people don’t look at it with a balanced eye. When they lose they are the worst humans in the world. When they win they’re going to win the world cup. People need to be a little bit more balanced in their views.”

Crann said the team’s coach Stuart Baxter had said his biggest challenge is getting the players’ confidence back. According to the EFF, the biggest source of moral support for football players are their fans. Bafana Bafana, potentially playing to an empty stadium, are going to have to dig deep to win back the confidence of South Africans. There are three World Cup qualifiers on Bafana Bafana’s schedule which they have to win. “It’s fingers crossed really,” said Crann.

Featured image via Pixabay