South Africa to host anti-xenophobia football friendlies

21 April 2015

The South African Football Association (Safa) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) are organising two international friendly matches against neighbouring countries to create unity in the wake of attacks on foreign nationals.

“We want to use the two high-profile international friendly matches as an instrument to unite this continent,” Safa CEO Dennis Mumble said in a statement on Sunday.”What has been happening in the past few days have really left most people in a shock and dismayed.

The matches would form part of the fight against xenophobia. “Madiba spoke of the power of sport in uniting people from different walks of life and we want to use the power of football to unite this continent and kick out this scourge within certain malcontents in our society,” he said.

Safa would announce details of the matches soon, Mumble said.

‘We are one Africa’

“Most sporting personalities have had their say in denouncing these barbaric acts but we want to go a step further by playing friendly matches against neighbouring countries.

“We want to send out a message to those perpetrating these acts to sit back and realise what they are doing is wrong. We are one continent, one Africa, we are all Africans and we say no to xenophobia,” Mumble said.

Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has welcomed this initiative, urging all peace-loving people to stand together against all forms of attacks on innocent people.

Seven people have been killed and hundreds of others displaced as attacks against foreign nationals have flared up in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, and parts of Gauteng.

Freedom

Xenophobia is wrong, Mbalula said. “It’s inhuman and it does not belong in South Africa or anywhere in the world. Just yesterday, we found refuge in other African countries when apartheid was in full force.

“Governments of other African countries gave us a home, fed us and most importantly helped in the liberation of all South Africans. Imagine if, when we were in pain, they told us to go home. The freedom we have today would have never been achieved.”

The stance taken against xenophobia by South Africa’s leaders – including President Jacob Zuma and King Goodwill Zwelithini – and by the country’s sports teams and supporters yet again signals the importance of sport in uniting people.

“Let us all unite in our diversity as the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa urges us to,” Mbualula said.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoint) is operating on a 24-hour basis and various government departments and agencies are working in an integrated manner to ensure that the attacks are brought to an end as soon as possible.

All law enforcement operations are being co-ordinated by this structure.

SAinfo reporter and SAnews.gov.za