On Saturday and Tuesday Bafana Bafana debuted their new World Cup shirts, and while looking stylish in their new Adidas kit, the gleaming yellow shirts weren’t inspiration enough to break Bafana’s goal scoring drought – even with recalled Benni McCarthy. At least they didn’t lose. Two 0-0 draws, against Japan and Jamaica, may not inspire confidence in the host country progressing to the second round of the World Cup, but not losing was a step in the right direction, post Joel Santana.
What South Africa needs, with dwindling confidence in the national team, is the imagination to be caught by Bafana fever, with support from the people lifting those on the pitch, as it’s clearly not happening the other way around. Initiatives like the one asking people to wear a Bafana jersey to work on Friday’s are a sound way to drum up national support and bring back pride in our team. So with a new shirt, the one that will be worn during the World Cup, no on sale we can expect Bafana fans to go out in mass and cover the country in a sea of yellow, swelling the pride we have in our team, and hopefully translating that onto good performances on the pitch. Sound reasoning right? There’s one thing that can throw a spanner in that plan, and by spanner I mean totally kill the idea. The price of the new Bafana jersey? Between R1200 and R1500 depending on where you shop. Insanity or greed, perhaps both, is at play here.
With a country struggling with poverty and unemployment Adidas, or whoever has dreamed this price, have made the jersey of the national team of the national sport, out of reach to those real supporters who love the game and love the team. At a time where we should be bringing the country together to ensure that Africa’s first World Cup will be a success this aberration has insulted the people of South Africa. Firstly, who can afford to pay over a grand for a football replica jersey? Secondly, who would want to? Apparently the only ones who can afford the new jersey are those that will probably get it for free, the players, the SAFA and Adidas boards, and the countries president. The people, the real fans, will have to make do with knock offs and the old jersey, and while I am completely against buying fake goods, and wouldn’t do it myself, this is one instance where’d I’d fully support such illegal actions. The average man should be able to buy the shirt of the team he supports, not the highest earning 1% of the country.
Adidas have made a cheaper shirt available, one that does not have the Protea badge on it, which is available for about R599. Again two points to consider here, firstly, while R599 is still on the high side, and still way to high for the average South African, how insulting is it to say to Bafana fans that you can’t afford the real thing, so here’s a cheaper option that isn’t quite the real deal? Secondly, who are they trying to fool by suggesting that one little badge costs an extra grand?
Brian Kerby, the managing director of Adidas, had this to say at the launch “We also wanted to incorporate something that will symbolise the unity of South Africans and we chose the South African flag, which is prominent on the front of the jersey. The jersey defines who we are as South Africans.” Nice sentiment, but how about making it affordable to South Africans? Hopefully parliament, who likes to make their views clear when it comes to Rugby and Cricket, will make a big fuss and investigate what exactly is going on here. They’ve already said that no more jerseys will be produced without the Protea badge. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that the only price available will be R1500.
Until the price drops I won’t be buying the new jersey of the team I support, and I’d suggest that everyone do the same. We need to take a stand against greed.