South African political parties told to stay away from football matches

South Africa’s football association (Safa) has told political parties to stay away from football matches after an attempt at campaigning at two high profile games in the last week – including Saturday’s African Champions League tie in Pretoria.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) was distributing t-shirts outside the Orlando stadium in Soweto. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) supporters were seen in their full red jumpsuits, displaying election banners.

Safa issued a strong statement to them to desist on Wednesday:

“Football is apolitical in its nature and we should all strive to promote a friendly, family atmosphere at the stadiums. It is for this reason that political regalia is among the list of prohibited items that are banned by Caf, Fifa and affiliated FAs,” said Safa’s acting chief executive officer Russell Paul.

“While we respect individuals’ right to associate himself/herself with the political party of his/her choice or to be affiliated to any religious sector of one’s choice, this should not be done openly within football environments as it is in violation of football governing bodies’ statutes.

“This has also the potential to raise tensions between supporters of different political parties and might lead to physical confrontations,” he added in a statement.

Mr Paul said those that contravene this rule will either be ejected from the stadiums or have their regalia taken away from them.

On Monday the Premier Soccer League’s spokesman Luxolo September also asked political parties to refrain from using their platforms for electioneering.

There has been no reaction yet from both the ANC and EFF to the Safa statement.

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