The state of South African football has a lot of things that need attention and one topic that should be giving SAFA and PSL officials some concern must be the issue of attendance at the stadiums. There is no question in my mind about South Africans and the love for their football. However, I do have questions about the number of fans that have, or have not, made their way to the stadiums for, Bafana Bafana matches or otherwise.
On the opening day of this league campaign defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns played in front of blue seats at Loftus, which was almost full to capacity a week later in the Springboks versus Argentina match. Could this be because the tickets are too expensive? Could this be because fans enjoy watching the matches on the TV instead? Could this be because the teams are just not worth the R40? Or could it be that SAFA and the PSL are not doing enough to promote the matches? What then if the two bodies deal with this last issue but the other three still exists?
For how long will we see only Chiefs and Orlando Pirates’ fans fill stadiums to capacity? Someone has to take the blame for this sudden drop in attendance at the stadiums. But who? Is it the teams? Is it the football governing bodies? Or just the fans?
Last week I spoke about the coaches in our domestic league resorting to ‘boring’, defensive and results-orientated brands of football. This might also be a factor as most fans in the past would go to the stadiums to watch their favourate players do tricks and win the match in style. At the beginning of this season the Premier Soccer league and Absa introduced the rekaofela fan bus. Now, this bus is said to be one of the initiatives by the league and their sponsor to try and get fans back into the stadiums.
I must ask how does a bus that carries less than seventy people and have video games and wi-fi inside help with getting thousands of fans back to the stadiums? Try something else, I say. The PSL and Absa have got it all wrong here I think.
Fans don’t want to hang out with Lucas Radebe, and even if they wanted to how will they do it inside one bus? ”Its Important for us to have football fans fans at the stadiums. It inspires players to push for excellence on the field of play’,’ said Absa’s Craig Van Niekerk. Are we not getting it wrong here again? Shouldn’t what the players offer on the field of play be what attracts or inspires the fans to want to come to the matches?
Footballers are paid to play football. What more inspiration do they need to do their job? Fans are the ones who need to be inspired to use their hard-earned money on this mediocrity that we see week in week out. Although the bus initiative by Absa is worth a try, I am challenging the teams and the league to do much more for turnouts like the one we saw at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in the MTN8 first leg semi-final between Kaizer Chiefs and Platinum Stars.