Cape Town – Former Bafana Bafana defender Matthew Booth says South Africa did not take advantage of the “football euphoria” after the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
FIFA gave the country a cash boost of R685 million after the tournament, with R137 million used to build the South African Football Association (SAFA) an office next to the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
Booth believes that the millions the country received were not used correctly and should have been invested in the infrastructure of South African football.
Booth, 41, who played 28 times for Bafana, would have liked government and SAFA to have put greater impetus on growing the sport over the last eight years in lesser known parts of South Africa.
“I don’t think we’ve taken advantage of the euphoria that surrounded the World Cup. I saw demographics that never kicked a football before, kicking a football,” said Booth.
“People who never thought of kicking a football were doing so (for the first time), and we didn’t take advantage of that.
“We kind of sat back. That wasn’t good enough for me.”
Booth continued: “I also think that the legacy and the money hasn’t been used correctly, from an infrastructure point of view.
“Organised football outside of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and the metros, it is virtually non-existent. So, we haven’t taken advantage.
“Most of these countries are going to take advantage of the football euphoria and take advantage of the interest. We didn’t do so in my opinion.”
The 2010 World Cup was the last time Bafana Bafana featured on the world stage after automatically qualifying as host nation.
Eight years later and two disappointing failed attempts in qualifying for Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018, Booth says that the Bafana Bafana brand is “diluted”.
“We’ve diluted our brand as well,” Booth continued.
“If you take a 9-year-old kid, and you give him a Proteas cricketer, Springbok rugby player and a Bafana player and you say to them, ‘who’s this guy?’
“He’s going to say, the Proteas player name, the Springbok player, and the Bafana player comes a distant third. Now that we’ve got to change.”