SA Gov to back World Cup 2023 bid?

Tue, 02 May 2017 18:11

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The new Minister of Sport and Recreation Thembelani 'Thulas' Nxesi has rekindled the idea of a hosting the World Cup in 2023.

In April 2016, Nxesi's predecessor, Fikile Mbalula, banned South African Rugby Union - along with cricket, athletics and netball - from hosting all major or mega international tournaments due to the results of the 2016/2017 Transformation Barometer.

The ban prevents SARU from bidding to host the 2023 XV-a-side World Cup, however, SA Rugby continued with their bid despite the absence of government’s support.

On Tuesday,  Nxesi's visit to the SARU headquarters hinted that government would soon formally support the 2023 bid after he had studied the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Sports Transformation report.

A positive sign for SARU, is that the new minister understands the magnitude of hosting the World Cup 2023 and the legacy the event will leave behind.

"The EPG report is there, it is left for us to study and the results will be release soon. The issue of us - as the government- supporting the bid, hinges on one of those issues.

"I won’t pre-empt it‚ but we will make an announcement very soon, " Nxesi said.

“If I were to draw on my experiences from the Soccer World Cup in 2010, in terms of nation building, we saw both black and white in the stands supporting Bafana Bafana and enjoying the football.
“The legacy of that tournament, amongst black and white, is very important. A big part of that legacy is the stadia which were built, which means that we have the necessary infrastructure in place already and we don’t have to start from scratch.
"It means the hosting costs would be seriously reduced and I believe that the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2023 can also leave a huge legacy and make a big impact, just like soccer did (in 2010). But it really depends on how the government is going to look at it," he added.

Nxesi emphasised the importance of development and has recognised that it is not only dependent on the sports federations, but it is also the responsibility of the governmental departments.

"If you look at those who play for the national teams, you will see it is mostly players drawn from model C schools or school with sports. There is talent in the rural and township areas that have not been unearth.

"But that is not the responsibility of rugby – it’s the responsibility of Federations and the Department of Sport and Recreation," he explained.

SARU President Mark Alexander was confident that the meeting with Nxesi proved to be fruitful, especially surrounding the issues of the World cup 2023 bid and the EPG report.  

"In terms of the World Cup bid, we are on track to deliver the document by June 1, 2017, to World Rugby.

"I am confident, when the EPG report comes out, that it will meet the correct requirements. We have a system of tracking and I can see the barometer of where we are on a weekly basis.

“While they allowed us to continue with our bidding process, there was always the thing that we have to meet our EPG commitments and that is the box that ticks everything - all the other documents will flow," Alexander said.

By Leezil Hendricks