Johannesburg — South African soccer fans have been promised that they will not experience another "black-out" when Bafana Bafana take on Sierra Leone in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match on Saturday evening.
With the intervention of Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, the South African Football Association (Safa) and South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on Wednesday reached an agreement to broadcast the match live at 5pm on SABC1 from Mbombela Stadium.
The SABC has agreed to a fee of R3 million for this match and Safa agreed to pay an amount of R1.2 million in broadcast sponsorship rights on behalf of their sponsors.
Mbalula's intervention came after the two were unable to find one another on the broadcast rights of Bafana matches.
The minister, who thanked both parties for their willingness to resolve the issue for the benefit of the nation, said the meeting was not hostile.
"It is in the public interest to broadcast matches of the national team and we are delighted about this major breakthrough. Football is a national asset and we need to ensure that the whole nation can participate in the exciting journey of our national team as they seek to qualify for the 2012 AFCON and beyond," he said.
Mbalula also advised the SABC and Safa to move swiftly to a long-term comprehensive agreement that would eliminate any uncertainty in the future.
Speaking to reporters, Safa President Kirsten Nematandani said: "We are delighted that this important match will be shown live on SABC and we wish to thank the minister for his constructive intervention to resolve the matter."
According to Nematandani, their next step with the SABC would be to engage the French company, SportFive, who were awarded the broadcast rights for all Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA away matches, to secure a deal to broadcast all Bafana away matches.
He said during their discussions, they both agreed that the terrestrial broadcast rights for all CAF and FIFA qualifying home matches of Bafana are the sole property of Safa and that the SABC must purchase these rights from Safa.
The chairman of the SABC Board, Dr Ben Ngubane, was also equally excited about the progress of their meeting with the football association.
"We are happy to have reached an agreement with Safa on this matter and we've requested Safa to sit down with us to resolve any outstanding issues so that we can present a common position to SportFive going forward," he said.
Bafana must win Saturday's match if they are to have a chance of qualifying for the 2012 Afcon finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in January next year.
However, they will also need Egypt to either win or draw their home match against Niger to guarantee Bafana a slot in this continental tournament.
Safa communications manager, Morio Sanyane, said only 14 000 tickets were left for Saturday's match in Mbombela, adding that Bafana's match will be played simultaneously with that of Egypt and Niger.
However, both Nematandani and Ngubane promised that they will formalise their deal by signing their comprehensive agreement very soon.