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SABC resumes national team coverage in new SAFA rights agreement

The South African national football team has returned to the screens of SABC following the conclusion of a new rights deal between the public-service broadcaster and the South African Football Association.

The four-year contract, running from 2019 to 2022, commenced yesterday (Sunday) with SABC1 broadcasting the men’s national team’s 2-1 win over Mali in the Nelson Mandela Challenge.

The SABC and SAFA said the agreement will annually cover six men’s national team matches, including three home qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations, two friendlies and the Nelson Mandela Challenge. Five home friendly matches for the women’s team, including the Winnie Mandela Challenge, will also be broadcast by SABC.

SAFA said last month that it was close to agreeing a deal with the SABC. South Africa’s men’s and women’s teams have received sporadic television coverage since SAFA’s previous agreement with the SABC expired in April 2018. That deal was worth ZAR110m (€6.7m/$7.4m) per year and a compromise deal has now been reached with the public broadcaster.

The embattled broadcaster last week received around two-thirds of a ZAR3.2bn government bailout after it was found to have met five of eight preconditions for the funding.

The new rights deal also includes domestic competitions such as the men’s and women’s age-grade championship finals, the play-off final of the third-tier ABC Motsepe National league, futsal and beach football championships finals, the Sasol Women’s League Finals and various SAFA National Women’s League. A weekly SAFA magazine show and the SAFA Annual Awards also form part of the contract.

SABC group chief executive, Madoda Mxakwe, said: “In negotiating this deal with SAFA, the SABC needed to find a balance between fulfilling its public mandate and entering into an agreement which was commercially viable. We understand the role we play in promoting sports of national interest, and inspiring the next generation of sports stars.”

SAFA acting chief executive, Russell Paul, added: “Both SAFA and SABC have been hard at work over the past few months to ensure that these matches can be broadcast and this augurs well for the greater aspect of development funding to women’s football and general grassroots football.”

Speaking last month about what he described as the “exorbitant” cost of sports rights, SABC group chief executive Madoda Mxakwe said that ZAR400m of SABC’s ZAR483m annual loss for the 2018-19 period was due to its investment in sports rights.