The city of Durban would be responsible for “hopefully” not more than R10 million of the total costs of hosting the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament next year, Mayor James Nxumalo said on Sunday.
But this would depend on the finalisation of all financial implications with the SA Football Association (Safa) and provincial government, he stressed.
While the city was still in the dark about the final cost, Nxumalo said the R40m expected to be paid by Durban to host the tournament could be cut by R30m if the province agreed to pay half of the bill and the association at least R10m.
“We hope the city won’t pay more than R10m,” he said in an interview.
It was reported at the weekend that Safa would bear 75 percent of the costs while ratepayers would be expected to foot the rest of the bill.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Friday that four municipalities – eThekwini (Durban), Mbombela (Nelspruit), Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) and Rustenburg – would stage the tournament, which is scheduled to run from January 19 to February 10 next year. Mbalula would not say to what extent the association would help the host cities.
Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium would host the opening and closing ceremonies of the tournament while matches would be played at venues around the country.
The gate takings would be shared among the host cities, Safa and the Confederation of African Football, it emerged last week.
Nxumalo said eThekwini would be given the final figure by the task team assembled by Mbalula to handle the finances.
“We will hold a meeting with them where the final financial implications will be laid on the table,” he said, adding that a date had not been set for this.
“But we know that the sports minister and the task team understand the urgency of the matter, so hopefully there won’t be any more delays. We want to start planning for the tournament immediately.”
Nxumalo would also negotiate with the local organising committee to host one of the semi-finals. “We are prepared to host any team in the city because we know that Durban is a soccer-loving city.”
The draw for the tournament was expected to be made in October, said the municipality’s spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng.
While opposition parties echoed Nxumalo’s sentiments about Durban residents being football fanatics, they disapproved of the city’s agreement to host the event.
NFP councillor, Ahmed Shaik Emam, said cash-strapped rate-payers who were being hit by massive tariff hikes could not afford to contribute “even a cent” to the event.
He said Durban should have followed the lead of the City of Cape Town and pulled out as a host city.
DA caucus leader, Tex Collins, said that it should be the association – not ratepayers – which footed the bill. “It’s our stadium. They should be the ones paying us, and not the other way around.” He also asked why Safa did not use the millions paid out to them recently by Fifa to pay for the event.
Premier Zweli Mkhize’s spokesman, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said the cabinet’s special committee on major events would discuss how much the province would contribute towards the event.
“The province will issue a statement in the next few weeks,” he said, adding that Mkhize had always emphasised that the province was keen to stage international events to help showcase the city and the province.