South Africa squad for Women’s World Cup in dispute with their FA

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The preparations for South Africa’s Women’s World Cup were thrown into disarray on Sunday when a second-string national team, which included a 13-year-old player, played a friendly match against Botswana. This happened because the squad selected for the finals was involved in a dispute with the national association. 

The match was intended to be a farewell for the squad heading to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, before they continued their preparations abroad.

However, due to a disagreement with the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) regarding bonus payments and contract terms for the tournament, the team that was supposed to participate in the World Cup did not play. 

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Instead, a team with no prior experience at the national level was quickly assembled and suffered a 5-0 defeat in front of confused spectators at a crowded Tsakane Stadium, as well as viewers watching on television.

Desiree Ellis, the coach of South Africa, recognized the underlying tensions and stated that the national team would need to have a discussion with SAFA to “plot the way forward”.

SAFA officials have not yet provided a comment in response to Reuters’ request, but the organization’s football manager, Mzwandile Maforvane, confirmed the problems to the SABC.

“There are challenges that we have with regard to the team and I believe the governance structure of SAFA is dealing with those issues,” he said.

The Minister of Sport in South Africa, Zizi Kodwa, issued a statement urging the parties involved to reach a peaceful resolution. He also announced his intention to meet with the country’s players’ union on Tuesday.

“I urge the team to be focused on the major task that lies ahead … I will be meeting with the South Africa Football Players’ Union on Tuesday to hear the serious concerns expressed by the team,” Kodwa said.

“The meeting will consider issues pertaining to the government’s commitment and support to the team, the team’s working, welfare and health conditions, including transparency and accountability related to the signing of contracts.”

South Africa is scheduled to play against Costa Rica in a last preparation match in Christchurch on July 15. They have been placed in Group G at the World Cup, along with Sweden, Italy, and Argentina. The tournament begins on July 20.

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