Fri. Aug 23rd, 2019

PSL in a catch-22 over political campaigns at soccer matches

The ANC and EFF have courted controversy with their visibility in recent high-profile soccer matches.

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A glimpse at the crowd during Mamelodi Sundowns’ thumping of Egyptian giants Al Ahly in Pretoria on Saturday would have given one the impression that the away side – clad in red – had a decent smattering of support, but it was however members of a local political party.

With the general elections drawing near, political parties are intensifying their campaigns, and two of the most prominent have turned to local football matches to garner support and increase their visibility.

The Caf Champions League fixture at Lucas Moripe Stadium was just the latest football matches where political regalia and banners were spotted in the stands, as the same could be seen during the Tshwane giants’ previous outing – against Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium.

In both matches, the EFF had some competition as the ANC was also reportedly present outside the stadiums, distributing T-shirts – perhaps contributing to the sea of yellow which dominated the stands.

Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Irvin Khoza addressed the matter on Tuesday, saying the league is in no position to stop people going into the stadium, regardless of the colours they wear.

“Fifa does not allow political parties advertising,” Khoza is quoted on TimesLive.

“Religious or political advertising is not allowed, but if they come to the stadium, we can’t stop them. We can’t give a platform where there is a campaign.”

Dr Irvin Khoza

The “Iron Duke” did however encourage soccer fans to come out in their masses to vote in the elections held on Wednesday, 8 May.

“If you don’t vote you can’t say my street has potholes, the hospitals are not proper, transport services are not proper.

“We can only encourage that as football… for people to have a say on how matters of this country are discussed because you have the right and a voice.

“We are apolitical as football but clubs are supported by people who support various political parties and religious organisations.”

Dr Irvin Khoza

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