Soccer bonanza dilemma

The Moses Mabhida Stadium will host two Indian soccer teams in June. REUTERS/Rogan Ward/Files

The Moses Mabhida Stadium will host two Indian soccer teams in June. REUTERS/Rogan Ward/Files

Published Feb 19, 2024


Durban — The eThekwini Municipality plans to host an international soccer match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium that is expected to cost taxpayers more than R3 million.

Titled the National Connect One Football Tournament, the event, which will have two teams from India play against Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, was supposed to have taken place in January but was postponed to June.

According to ActionSA councillor Zwakele Mncwango and his DA counterpart Vincent Mkhize, the soccer matches were discussed and approved at this week’s full council meeting.

A document presented to the council states that the provincial government had requested the City to support and host the event, which would involve the two Soweto soccer giants and two Indian teams, Mohammedan Sporting Club and Sreenidi Deccan FC.

The document reads: “The tournament was perceived to be a powerful catalyst for economic growth; social cohesion and promotion of tourism in the KZN province.

“The event was considered to create a lasting positive impact on the province’s economic; cultural and sporting landscape.”

Following the postponement of the tournament, some councillors requested that the event be removed from the council’s agenda “to allow management to prepare a comprehensive report for approval by council”.

“However, in view that the agreement has already been signed, a plea was made to continue with the processes that have already commenced to prepare for the tournament,” reads the document.

Mncwango said while he was unaware of whether the stadium was in a structurally good and safe condition, he worried that it had become a municipal liability. He said the councillors had previously debated outsourcing it.

“Instead of generating revenue, sometimes we end up spending more money, and even when it comes to games, we pay soccer teams to come and play instead of them giving us revenue.

“Its lack of maintenance has also led to restaurants and other businesses that are renting running away, so it is a lot of liability,” said Mncwango.

He said the stadium could run efficiently if the council sold it to a private company, “which can run it efficiently to generate profit”.

“It has a potential, as its cable car (skycar) can give you the best view of eThekwini (CBD and surroundings), and tourists like it.

“Now you ask yourself, why we could not restore such an important thing (the skycar), which boosts tourism because when a person comes to ride the cable car, they end up supporting the restaurants and other local businesses,” he said.

Mncwango said it had become impossible to run a business when there was no maintenance.

The stadium should be hosting games and events every week or every month, but this was not the case.

A source in the stadium’s events department said it cost between R30 000 and R1 million to hire the venue, depending on the number of people attending, and the cleaning and security required.

eThekwini mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said the stadium was safe for use despite “ongoing repairs”.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said the “country and the world must rest assured that the Moses Mabhida Stadium is structurally safe and poses no threat to anyone deciding to visit the facility”.

She said the maintenance work being carried out formed part of the stadium’s routine maintenance programme to ensure that the facility remained world-class.

Sunday Tribune