South African Sport: The Rugby Franchise System, and Emerging Soccer Unionism

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 13:30
Oral Presentation
Kiran ODHAV, North West University, Mafikeng, North West Province, South Africa
Gerald MONYATSI, North West University, South Africa
South African Sport: The rugby franchise system, and emerging soccer unionism

Kiran Odhav, Sociology, Mafikeng campus, North West University, South Africa, kiran.odhav@nwu.ac.za

Gerald Monyatsi, Sociology, Mafikeng campus, North West University, South Africa, 16479726@nwu.ac.za

The paper examines two most popular sports in South Africa, that is, rugby and soccer, by providing a background on the history sports in South Africa.

The first part describes and analyzes its rugby, a recently corporatized finance system emerging almost overnight out of a 100-year old amateur and voluntary system. In this changeover, problems arise, of contradictions and fissures, alongside the development of rugby as a highly specialized field but with franchise power, particularly in the top rugby clubs. Thus one top club, monopolistic as it is, recently faced bankruptcy, even as an iconic club. The drive to gain black fans may be due to such bankruptcy. In sum, the role of rugby franchises in this scenario is analyzed, and what are the possibilities and problems of professional rugby in the new political dispensation.

The second part focuses on South African soccer, to outline an emerging unionism in professional football. Player unionization has been relatively neglected by industrial sociologists. Professional player unionization in South Africa began in 1997, with the formation of the South African Football Players Union (SAFPU). Prior to this, professional football players have always been at the mercy of their employers, that is, club owners who would take unilateral decisions on matters pertaining to players’ contracts and the like. This section seeks to focus on particular issues that relate to players’ rights and their playing conditions, of aspects relating to contracts and development, and to the kinds of avenues that are open (or are being opened up) and if these are being fully exploited by some players in the Professional Soccer League (PSL).