Bafana Bafana belongs to the people


The South African Football Association (SAFA) is investigating a name change for Bafana Bafana. While a lot of talk and opinion is being bandied about regarding the colloquial context of the name, SAFA is on record as to why it is planning to throw out the name three Sowetan sports writers coined in the early 1990s and adopted by the nation. It’s about money, plain and simple.

The trio tasked with bulging SAFA’s pockets even further investigating a name change to the benefit of the team and the country consists of SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani, vice-president Danny Jordaan and chairman of the referees committee Alpha Mchunu.

Jordaan recently told the Financial Mail that “The NEC [of SAFA] decided we should look at what the legal impediments are to maximising revenue opportunities from licensing and merchandising. This could include us considering an alternative name. Our job is to do an objective evaluation.”

SAFA owns 50.1% of Slam, the company that owns merchandising rights to Bafana’s name. A local businessman owns the other 49.9% through his company Stanton Woodrush – apparently after it registered the trademark for Bafana Bafana on clothing well before SAFA thought of doing so. The joint venture combined SAFA’s and Stanton Woodrush’s rights into a single company.

Having made a super profit after South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the countries’ sports administrators seem to have soured on sharing the spoils.

Nobody has ever betted on the administrative competence of SAFA and last week journalists Bareng-Batho Kortjaas and Kgomotso Mokoena suggested on Times Live that, before the creation of Slam, SAFA had not bothered with merchandising.

The Times Live story also claims that Stanton Woodrush had approached SAFA last year to sell its share in Slam back to SAFA. Having done well out of the world cup and foreseeing that the company might well be worth as much now as it ever will in the medium term, coupled with growls from Parliament about the Slam deal, this would make perfect sense. SAFA apparently failed to respond to the offer.

Rebranding a national team, especially after their brand recognition has gone global as happened during the world cup, is an expensive exercise, not to mention a controversial one. If SAFA can acquire the remainder of Slam at a fair price, it should take the deal. A fair deal would compensate Stanton Woodrush for its contribution to building the merchandising business and would probably be less costly, financially and politically, than finding a name all South Africans can relate to and which will be enthusiastically adopted by SA soccer lovers.

Clint Roper, the editor of local soccer bible Soccer Laduma, says 67% of his readers voted “No” in a poll asking whether Bafana Bafana’s name should be changed. Roper, and his readers it seems, doesn’t see money as sufficient reason to tamper with a national treasure.

The name Bafana Bafana is loved by the nation and nobody screaming the name at the top of their lungs during a game would consider it derogatory, argues Roper. Roper asks the right question when he says: “Would they have changed the name if they owned all the merchandising rights?” The answer is almost certainly “No.”

The possibility of a name change for Bafana Bafana hasn’t hit home yet, and SAFA will face a backlash from the nation should they proceed, warns Roper.

Irvin Khoza, the chairman of Orlando Pirates Football Club, is quoted in City Press as saying, “There is so much brand value, essence and emotion involved with the Bafana name. Doing away with it won’t be worth it. There is a need to engage with the people involved and if they come up with a reasonable fee, then pay it.”

It seems like sound advice SAFA would do well to take note of. Bafana Bafana belongs to the people. SAFA are merely its administrators.

Bizcommunity Originally published on Marketing & Media | South Africa – click to see more comments.


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