Sports Minister hits back at Malema in PSL stadium ban row

Minster of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has described demands for fans to return to Premier Soccer League matches as ‘uninformed’

Economic Freedom Front leader Julius Malema has this week be strongly advocating for fans to return to stadiums to watch PSL games.

“We are demanding that stadiums must be open, and if they are not by next Thursday (January 20), we will be picketing at the ministers’ office,” said Malema

The Premier Soccer League’s doors remain shut for supporters, as has been the case for close to two years now, since Covid-19 hit South African shores in March 2020. The red-beret party leader wants to take the fight to Mthethwa.           

“Next week Thursday we are picketing at the Department of Sport to demand that it must suggest to that counsel (PSL) that the stadiums must be opened even if it is opened to limited numbers, we don’t care. If there are no results with that picket, we are going to Safa and the PSL (to picket),” said Malema, who is a high-profile Orlando Pirates supporter. 

Mthethwa, however, responded on Friday in a statement.

“The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, has taken note of numerous public announcements advocating for the opening of stadiums,” read the statement.

“Regrettably, such calls are uninformed in light of the ongoing action taken by the DSAC over the last few months to enable access to stadiums, in a manner that protects both lives and livelihoods.”

Mthethwa also pointed out that 2000 fans have been allowed to attend matches since October 2021.

“Success factors record following this approach include numerous games last year such as Bafana Bafana vs Ethiopia, Bafana Bafana vs Zimbabwe and the MTN8 … final,” added the statement.

Malema, however, has suggested that the Irvin Khoza-led PSL could be benefitting from the prolonged ban of supporters from match venues.  

“It looks like there is a group of an African National Congress aligned elite, which is enjoying this thing of people watching from DStv because it means more money and viewership for DStv. Those who don’t have DStv cannot enjoy the beauty of football,” Malema said.  

He adds: “The Africa Cup of Nations is playing in Cameroon and people are at the stadiums, what is the difference here in South Africa? When the stadiums are open, the informal traders make a lot of money to feed their families in this era of high unemployment, so there are a lot of implications.” ©TheCitizen

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