'Greed' sinks big hockey deal
SA star Justin Reid-Ross (File)
Johannesburg - The “intervention” and “greed” of South Africa’s Olympic heads this week cost the country’s desperate men’s hockey team a big sponsorship deal and apparently threatens to rule out another deal to the value of millions of rands.
The Games’ preparation of the team, which has been without a sponsor for the past eight years, is at risk after Clere Active on Tuesday withdrew its offer to contribute R350 000 to training camps, international matches and a televised advertising campaign.
Clere Active marketing manager Karen Kruger declined to confirm or deny whether the sponsorship was cancelled, but several sources involved in the negotiations told City Press
that the “intervention” and “greed” of the South African Sports Council and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the “hopeless management” of the South African Hockey Association (SAHA) sank the agreement.
Clere Active representatives approached Saha on May 10 after Marissa Langeni, the controlling body’s chief executive, and Dave Carr, SAHA president, made desperate pleas for support.
Clere Active offered to act as a joint sponsor, but by earlier this week SAHA had not yet signed a memorandum of understanding.
In addition, City Press was told SASCOC announced on Tuesday it would take part of the sponsorship and warned that Clere Active “may not be involved with the team in any way” during the Games.
This was apparently “the last straw”.
Langeni confirmed to City Press that the team still had no sponsor.
“We are currently in talks with a company for funding,” he said.
City Press understood that these negotiations - apparently with a construction giant - reached a dead end, reportedly because SAHA and SASCOC insisted on an amount of R3m.
“The talks are at a sensitive stage, but I am hopeful we will soon reach an agreement,” Langeni said.
The team was virtually guaranteed a place in London after being crowned African champions.
Champion teams from every continent have automatically gone through in the past but SASCOC decided the team had to win a tournament in Japan last month to gain entry.
SASCOC did not intervene in the sponsorship of the men’s hockey team, but “opportunistic sponsors who want to get on the Games gravy train can keep their money”, said SASCOC president Gideon Sam.
“We cannot allow sponsors only to come on board now ... Where were they for the past four years, when we asked people to become involved in the build-up to the Games?” he asked.
“It would be unfair to the sponsors who have gone the long road with us and comply with all our requirements. We can’t make an exception.”