South Africa’s men and women’s football teams to receive equal pay, says sports ministry

South Africa’s men’s and women’s national football teams will receive equal pay in the wake of the unprecedented success achieved by the women’s team following the conclusion of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.

“It is going to be a law in this country; Banyana Banyana and Bafana Bafana will be paid equally because we are making that happen as the government,” South Africa’s Minister of Sports Nathi Mthethwa said during a ceremony in Johannesburg on Tuesday to welcome the women’s team.

South Africa’s players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final match against Morocco at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat. /CFP

Not only was Banyana Banyana crowned champions of Africa for the first time after defeating Morocco but team members claimed a host of continental awards before and after the final, including women’s coach of the year and women’s team of the year.

Mthethwa said the success of the women’s team was a testament to the government’s support of women’s sports in general.

Banyana Banyana players will get an additional R5.8 million (344 thousand U.S.dollars) on top of what SAFA had initially promised the squad.

South African Football Association (SAFA) President Danny Jordaan echoed Mthethwa’s sentiments adding that SAFA would meet with its national executive committee to address the issue but he did not elaborate further.

“On the African continent, Sierra Leone became the first African country to pay men and women the same after an agreement between the government and Sierra Leonean football. Brazil now is paying men and women equal, Norway has followed that route, England has gone that route; it is time that South Africa follow that route,” Jordaan said.

In September 2020, the Sierra Leonian government and the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) announced that both the men’s and women’s teams will receive equal pay to motivate more women to get into the game in the West African country.

Jordaan also expressed his hope that other sporting codes in the country will follow SAFA’s lead in addressing gender disparity with regard to salaries and bonuses.

FILE PHOTO: South African Football Association (SAFA) President Danny Jordaan. /CFP

Jordaan also called on football’s world governing body, FIFA, to address wide-ranging aspects of gender disparity in the sport, including prize money and broadcast revenues. Jordaan, citing the World Cup as an example, pointed out the big differences between the men’s and women’s tournaments which also have gender connotations in their names.

“This tournament indicated the disparity between men and women and is an indication of the domination of men in world sport. The FIFA World Cup, as it’s called, is a World Cup for men, the FIFA Women’s World Cup has a gender insertion to distinguish between the men’s World Cup and the women’s World Cup. As we celebrate, in 2030, FIFA World Cup history, we hope that by then there will parity even there in the name of the competition.”

Advocates of women’s football, including female players, past and present, have fiercely fought for equal pay with notable examples being the U.S. Women National Team’s six-year legal battle with their federation and Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg of Norway quitting the national team in 2017 over a dispute with the country’s federation over the treatment of women’s football.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)