PRETORIA: South Africa’s sports minister banned the national rugby and cricket federations from bidding for or hosting major international tournaments for at least a year on Monday over their failures to create opportunities for black players.
Minister Fikile Mbalula made the announcement after receiving a report on “transformation” in South Africa’s five biggest sports: Rugby, cricket, soccer, athletics and netball.
The athletics and netball federations also were banned from bidding.
Football was the only one to meet its target. “I have therefore resolved to revoke the privilege of Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa (CSA), Netball South Africa (NSA) and South African rugby (SARU) to host and bid for major and mega international tournaments,” Mbalula said in a statement.
Mbalula said he will review his decision when he has received the results of the federations’ transformation efforts for 2016-17.
That could be at the end of next year, or maybe only in early 2018. His move could prevent South Africa from bidding for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The South African Rugby Union has already announced its intention to bid for the tournament.
World Rugby will release tender documents to interested countries in May, and countries must formally confirm their intention to bid in June. Under the decision announced by Mbalula on Monday, SARU wouldn’t be allowed to bid.
Both the rugby and cricket federations said their officials would go into closed-door meetings with sports ministry officials after the announcement.
The South African government has been pushing for years for the country’s main sports especially rugby and cricket to create more opportunities for black players.
More than two decades after the end of apartheid, those two sports are still generally dominated by whites despite the fact that blacks make up over 80 percent of South Africa’s population.
All five federations agreed on various transformation targets with the government in 2014.