As the countdown to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup continues, teams from across the world are making their final preparations for the tournament.
However, frustrations over delayed broadcast agreements and fair pay has played a role in multiple teams warmup camps, as FIFA and national federations have come in for major criticism.
South Africa are on the list of teams facing a player revolt ahead of the competition due to continued concerns over the lack of talks on pay and planning.
The South African FA (SAFA) are expected to continue to work on the issues but the clock is ticking for both parties.
Are South Africa playing at the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
South Africa are set to play in the competition. They qualified by winning the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, where the four semi-finalists were also granted entry into the biggest tournament in the game.
They made their first ever World Cup appearance in 2019, and this time around they have been drawn in Group G, alongside Italy, Sweden and Argentina.
South Africa team pay dispute explained
The ongoing standoff between members of the South Africa World Cup squad and the SAFA was catapulted to worldwide attention ahead of their final pre-tournament friendly against Botswana.
In an incredible show of team unity, the entire squad refused to play in Johannesburg, with the SAFA forced to pull together a team of locally-based players, including a 13-year-old.
A 5-0 loss to Botswana was the least of head coach Desiree Ellis’ problems at full-time, with her squad watching from the stands at the Tsakane Stadium.
The players union representative, president Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe, claimed the rolling row focused on the SAFA’s refusal to discuss pay with the players.
A standoff between #SouthAfrica’s Women’s World Cup squad and the national soccer association over pay and other issues has forced officials to field a makeshift team of little-known players that included a 13-year-old for a game v Botswana. pic.twitter.com/XpMXxOhqCe
— Oluwashina Okeleji (@oluwashina) July 3, 2023
Will the row be resolved?
On the back of the embarrassment over the Botswana defeat, and the statement from Gaoshubelwe, the South African Sports Minister Zizi Kodwa requested immediate talks with the players.
Kodwa stated he wanted to address the players’ concerns over issues on pay, contracts and welfare within the camp.
Since winning the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, the team have complained at a lack of broadcast coverage and parity with the men’s team in the eyes of the SAFA.
The squad have now seen their pay issues resolved, though, and will indeed play in the World Cup. Patrice Motsepe, a South African businessman, has stepped in to fund the shortfall.
Motsepe has set up a foundation with $320,000, which will be split between the 23 players in the travelling squad.
Where to watch Women’s World Cup on TV
The Women’s World Cup begins on July 20, 2023 local time, with the opening match seeing New Zealand take on Norway in Auckland; co-hosts Australia kick off their campaign later in the day against Republic of Ireland in Sydney.
The Women’s World Cup is one of the most popular sporting events in the world, with FIFA stating 1.12 billion viewers tuned into the last World Cup in 2019, which was a record.
With a tournament high 32 teams participating in the Australia and New Zealand edition as well as the continued growth of the women’s game, there is every chance the record could be broken once again.
TV networks worldwide, particularly in countries participating in the tournament, will be showing all 64 matches of the tournament live, including many being on free-to-air television.
|USA||Fox Sports, FS1, NBC Universo (Spanish), Telemundo (Spanish)|
|Canada||TSN, CTV RDS (French)|
|United Kingdom||BBC, ITV, ITV 4|
|Australia||Channel 7, Optus Sport|
|New Zealand||Sky Sport, Prime TV|
|Singapore||StarHub, Singtel, Mediacorp|