CAF boss Motsepe intervenes in South Africa women's team dispute

The 61-year-old CAF president is expected to reveal details of his mediation between the team and the national association on Wednesday, with a CAF source calling the dispute a 'major embarrassment' for 'all of Africa'.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, holds a press conference in Algiers on 1 October 2022 following the CAF Executive Committee (EXCO) meeting. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Africa football boss Patrice Motsepe has intervened to resolve a dispute between the South African women's 2023 World Cup squad and the national association, a source told AFP on Tuesday.

The 61-year-old Confederation of African Football (CAF) president is expected to reveal details of his mediation in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"This dispute involving the women's team was a major embarrassment not just for South Africa, but all of Africa," said a CAF source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Something had to be done, and quickly, with some South African players scheduled to leave for New Zealand [on Wednesday]."

Insufficient business-class seats means the squad, coaches and officials will travel to New Zealand in two groups on Wednesday and Thursday.

Australia and New Zealand are co-hosting the World Cup and African champions South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria and Zambia are representing the continent.

Motsepe helped resolve issues surrounding contracts, which squad members said did not include the $30,000 appearance fee promised by FIFA to each of the 23 players.

This resulted in the team not playing a send-off match against Botswana near Johannesburg last Sunday, and a hastily assembled team of South African lower league players lost 5-0.

Banyana Banyana, The Girls in isiZulu and the popular name of the national team, were also unhappy with the venue, saying they risked injuries on what was considered a sub-standard pitch.

There was also disappointment at the choice of Botswana - a team ranked 96 places below South Africa - with the squad wanting stronger opponents.

Before the farewell match debacle, South Africa beat Uzbekistan, drew with Slovenia and lost to Brazil (twice), Australia and Serbia in warm-ups.

"Safa might feel they have done enough, but I have a different opinion," forward Jermaine Seoposenwe told the public broadcaster SABC.

"But at the end of the day I am a player, and my job is to come here, play and then leave," added the star from Mexican club CF Monterrey.

Ranked 54th in the world, South Africa are outsiders in Group G, which includes former runners-up Sweden (3), Italy (16) and Argentina (28).

South Africa will play fellow qualifiers Costa Rica in a warm-up match on July 15 before beginning their World Cup campaign eight days later against the Swedes in Wellington.