The South African Football Association (Safa) has condemned supporters who went to the FNB Stadium to attend Bafana Bafana’s match against Ethiopia on Tuesday without vaccination certificates or tickets and urged them to refrain from doing so for the national team’s next match in November.
While it was ecstasy for the supporters who had their tickets in hand to watch the crucial 2022 Qatar Fifa World Cup qualifier, which Bafana won 1-0 in front of 2,000 vaccinated fans, for others it was agony.
An entrance to the stadium had to be closed following a scuffle with police after fans without tickets tried to push their way into the Soweto venue, forcing those with tickets and vaccination cards to be diverted to another entrance.
Hundreds of fans, most of them Ethiopians, were turned away.
They claimed they didn’t know they had to get a ticket online first and believed they only had to arrive with a vaccination certificate.
The ticketless and unvaccinated fans said they came to the venue under the impression that about 100 tickets would be provided to them upon arrival at the stadium.
They claimed that arrangements were made with Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs fan and vaccination drive ambassador Saddam Maake at a vaccination campaign in Mbombela led by deputy president David Mabuza last month.
Some fans blamed Maake for what was seemingly a miscommunication, while others pointed the finger at Safa and officials.
Maake was adamant that the fans from Mpumalanga and elsewhere across the country were told in time to register online, but some of them decided against it.
The match, which was successfully used as a pilot project for the return of fans back to the stadiums, was the first to be watched live by spectators in the country since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year.
Attendance was limited to 2,000 fans, who had to be fully vaccinated, and applications for tickets had to be done online.
Safa communications boss Dominic Chimhavi, however, said the organisation had a successful pilot project and cautioned the public against sidetracking Tuesday’s success with a “handful of grievances”.
“The truth is that Safa, together with the Stadium Management SA and the departments of sport, arts and culture and health, were consistent the whole week that fans must apply for tickets online,” said Chimhavi.
“We blocked 40 tickets for the superfans from across the country and I don’t know where the 100 tickets those fans are claiming is coming from.
“The fans from Mpumalanga were ‘a bit mischievous’ to rock up at FNB Stadium without tickets or confirmation.
“Saddam, Mama Joy and other prominent Superfans are vaccination ambassadors for the country and have been to Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West and KZN encouraging people to get vaccinated.
“This week they are in Northern Cape asking people to get vaccinated.”
“The limited number of 2,000 was a small number but this was a pilot project.
“Overall, the pilot project was a massive success and we can only grow from there.”
The pilot project was witnessed by ministers of sport, health and justice, Nathi Mthethwa, Joe Phaahla and Ronald Lamola respectively, along with other top government officials and Safa Ethics Committee chair justice Sisi Khampepe.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)