SAFA refusing to budge
SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani (File)
Johannesburg - The SA Football Association (SAFA) stood firm on Tuesday in its refusal to declare whether or not the national soccer team's name would change.
The company that owns the rights to the use of the Bafana Bafana trademark on apparel, headwear and footwear said earlier in the week that SAFA's lawyers had informed them the official nickname would change.
SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani, however, said the federation had never held talks with Wayne Smidt, the owner of Stanton Woodrush (Pty) Ltd, because he refused to answer his phone or return messages.
"When we got his (Smidt's) contact number, we gave him a call but his phone was off, and he has never replied back to the numerous messages that we left for him," Nematendani said.
Nematendani was not prepared to confirm whether SAFA would consider obtaining the rights from Smidt, or whether they had opted to find a new name altogether.
He said the federation would issue its own statement later on Tuesday, but SAFA media officer Matlhomola Morake, who would be tasked with issuing the statement, said he knew nothing of it.
Sports minister Fikile Mbalula was in full support of disbanding the Bafana name for a more "intimidating" commercial nickname. The current name, Bafana Bafana, means "the boys" in Zulu.
"Name change is a debate worth looking at. We are well respected in the African continent," Mbalula said last month.
"We are climbing the Fifa rankings and I wonder if we still need that name [Bafana Bafana]."
This idea was also backed by influential SAFA vice-president and 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee chief executive, Danny Jordaan, who along with SAFA executive member Alpha Mchunu and Nematendani have reportedly been tasked with finding a new name.
"Zimbabwe was changed from Rhodesia and even my home city Port Elizabeth is now known as Nelson Mandela Bay," Jordaan said recently.
"For as long as the name Bafana Bafana has existed, there have been those who were opposed to it.
"It has been viewed as demeaning in some instances because it means 'boys' and these are grown men we are talking about."