By Mark Gleeson
South Africa will not be submitting a bid book and other proposed hosting documentation to Fifa by Friday’s deadline for the next Women’s World Cup, ending their effort to host the 2023 event.
The South African Football Association (Safa) says it wants to focus on improving the women’s game, particularly the fledgling national league, before bidding for another international tournament – but more likely the country’s economic malaise has mitigated against the bid.
Safa has been on a collision course with Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa, whose support they would need to secure government guarantees.
The decision is not unexpected given the low priority the bid had been given in recent months, in comparison to other candidates’ countries.
South Africa is suffering through an economic crisis with several of its parastatal entities like electricity, railways and the national airline in trouble and to spend money from state coffers on a sports tournament would likely not sit well at this time.
Safa last month also refused to participate in an ‘indaba’ (conference) about the future of football in the country that Mthethwa had called for.
He was then forced into an embarrassing postponement of his plans.
“We resolved that as an association we should not proceed with the bid,” said Safa’s acting chief executive officer Hay Mokoena.
“We want to strengthen our women’s national league first before we invite the world to come and play.
“Definitely, we will consider doing 2027 and we think by that time, we will have a stronger women’s league and a much stronger women’s national team”.
Banyana Banyana participated at the women’s World Cup for the first time in France earlier this year but were eliminated in the first round.
Last month, South Africa turned down an approach to step in as emergency hosts of next year’s women’s African Cup of Nations finals in a blow to the Confederation of African Football who are now in a race against time to find a country to hold the 2020 tournament.
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, South Korea (in a possible joint bid with North Korea) and New Zealand are left in the race to host the 2023 women’s World Cup with the successful candidate to be announced in May.