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World Cup send off for South Africa women’s team turns into a protest

Sunday was supposed to mark a farewell to the South Africa women’s national team with Banyana Banyana scheduled to take on neighbors Botswana in a final friendly match before jetting off for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. However the reigning African women’s champions boycotted the match in Ekurhuleni and the event turned into an embarrassing farce for the South African Football Association (SAFA). An improvised team fell 5-0 to their opponents after an hour-long delay, conceding four goals in the opening half hour on their way to a humiliating defeat.

The players selected by head coach Desiree Ellis for the World Cup elected not to take the pitch at the Tsakane Stadium due to disagreements with SAFA over payments. FIFA will directly compensate each player selected for the competition with a minimum of about $26,750 but the members of Banyana Banyana desire additional payment from SAFA for their efforts leading to a standoff between the team and SAFA. The players were also concerned about the state of the pitch at the Tsakane Stadium.

What resulted on Sunday was an embarrassment for SAFA who received notice of the match boycott that morning and were forced to gather a makeshift squad. “We had to put a team on the field. So, we have a team on the field today,” a tearful Desiree Ellis remarked in her pre-match comments before the team was subsequently thrashed by Botswana. An initial agreement last week was put into doubt after the team came back with renewed demands and discussions are set to be held on Tuesday between the two parties.

South Africa are set to begin their World Cup campaign on July 23 against Sweden before facing Argentina and Italy in Group G. Highlights of Sunday’s friendly are below following more on the issues from the Daily Maverick and a report on the dispute from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

SABC report on the dispute

Highlights: South Africa 0-5 Botswana


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