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Banyana’s Boycott: South Africa protest against gender pay gap in lead up to World Cup

After recent controversy over pay disputes, which led to the South African team boycotting their match against Botswana, the Banyana’s are now in Oceania preparing for their opening match against Sweden.

The reigning African champions were scheduled to play Botswana on the 2nd July in a friendly before setting off to the World Cup later in the week. However, players made the choice to sit out the match in protest against the pay gap and lack of opportunities between them and their male counterparts. As a result, Head Coach Desiree Ellis was forced to play a makeshift team, which included players as young as 13 years old. The match ended in a 5-0 defeat.

A South African Football Association Official (SAFA) said that the players were acting like ‘mercenaries’ and ‘traitors’, while the chief financial officer for the SAFA also claimed that the players were being ‘unreasonable in their demands’.

Despite not reaching an agreement with their federation, the team have secured funding through the Motsepe Foundation and players will also receive $30,000 each from FIFA for partaking in the World Cup. They are now in New Zealand with training and preparations in full swing.

Thembi Kgatlana appears to be a player to look out for in this South African team. She scored their first ever goal in a Women’s World Cup back in 2019 against Spain and has played for teams in three different continents from Houston Dash in America to Atletico Madrid in Spain. She is currently playing for Racing Louisville after coming back from a ruptured Achilles injury. In only her second appearance for the club, she received player of the match for their 2-0 win over Gotham FC.

The Banyana’s hope to have a better run in this World Cup after losing all their group stage matches in France back in 2019. However, this may prove difficult as they will be facing Sweden, Italy and Argentina in Group G. South Africa will be playing Scandinavian giants Sweden in their opening match on the 23rd of July and they will be hoping to cause an upset.

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