Where are the white players in the PSL? Ex-Bafana star Matthew Booth gives his opinion

FILE - Former Bafana defender Matthew Booth. Photo: safa.net

FILE - Former Bafana defender Matthew Booth. Photo: safa.net

Published Apr 25, 2024


As one of a handful of white South African players to have played in the DStv Premiership, former Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana defender Matthew Booth has shared insights into what could be the reasons behind the low representation of white players in the league.

In an interview with football analyst and YouTuber Shakes Rampedi, Booth, seemingly trying to make sense of the situation, said it was more of a class issue rather than a racial issue.


“For me, it’s more of a class issue, it’s not a colour issue. We’re losing kids of all colours who are middle class and upper class. But just visually, it seems like there is very few white players. If you go down to any amateur club in Johannesburg, for example, it’s a rainbow of colours; white, black, coloured, Indian, you name it. And then you see a definite change, it’s not a colour issue,” said the former South African international.

Booth also added that the poor organisation of amateur leagues and safety concerns could also be a factor.

“It’s middle class and upper kids who perhaps are finding training a little bit difficult, or they have to go to areas where they feel unsafe, or the referee does not turn up, or the league is badly organised. And then the middle class and upper class say ‘Mom, dad, I am going to focus on my studies or I am going to sit at home and play X-Box’,” Booth added.

According to Booth, youngsters who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, in contrast to their middle-class and upper-class counterparts, were also hungrier to make it.

“A kid who comes from your lower LSMs will be hungrier, he or she will stick it out because that’s one of the few thing that they can aim for and can feel and want,“ said Booth.

South African football has, for decades, struggled to attract white players into the local set-up, with only a few having played in the league and represented Bafana Bafana at international level.

During the recently completed African Cup of Nations in Côte d'Ivoire in which Bafana Bafana finished third, there wasn’t a single white South African, in sharp contrast to the side that won the competition in 1996, which had the likes of Eric Tinkler, Neil Tovey, Mark Fish.

Booth added that the South African Football Association was failing in luring middle-class and upper-class youngsters into the beautiful game, saying: "Football is very accessible, that’s why it’s the number one sport in the world but we have to keep accessible for everybody.”

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