SAfrica may have to drop Bafana Bafana nickname

SAfrica may have to drop Bafana Bafana nickname

Published Jul. 22, 2010 12:15 p.m. ET

South Africa may have to drop its Bafana Bafana nickname because of copyright issues, the country's football chief hinted on Thursday.

''I want to avoid saying we are very angry about it,'' South African Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani said after it was reported a local businessman acquired the rights to the moniker in 1994, with its current owners believed to have made a profit of $10 million from it during the World Cup.

''We are worried about it. We are concerned,'' he said, before admitting the future of the nickname was being discussed ''at a national level.''

Nematandani hinted the Bafana Bafana name, which SAFA uses on much of its official literature and is the popular term in South Africa for the national team, would have to be changed despite being ''a national asset.''


SAFA began an extended legal battle in 1997 to claim rights over Bafana Bafana, but South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed in 2002 a SAFA motion that it had rights over Bafana Bafana.

There are no suggestions the current owners of the brand will sue SAFA for using the term, but the country's football association is unable to market it and make money from it.

The issue has also reached South Africa's parliament in Cape Town.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the influential parliamentary committee on sport said Bafana should be changed if the copyright issue wasn't resolved, forcing SAFA to address the problem.

''We brought it up because we felt that it was not doing us any good as an association,'' Nematandani said on Thursday at SAFA's headquarters next door to the Soccer City stadium - the venue for the World Cup final.

Speaking at a media briefing called to outline new South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane's vision for the future of the national team, Nematandani said the public could be asked to choose a new nickname.

''It clearly has to be done the right way, but we cannot go on in this way. It is not proper, it is not correct,'' the SAFA president said.

''The name of Bafana Bafana came from the public and we are throwing the ball back to the public,'' he said.

Bafana Bafana means ''the boys, the boys'' in Zulu.

It is thought to have been used in the early 1990s by journalists in Soweto - the famous township near Johannesburg - to refer to the national team after it was readmitted into international football after apartheid.

It was quickly picked up and is now the affectionate name by which South Africa football fans refer to their team.

In an internet poll, it was voted one of the words of the recent World Cup - along with vuvuzela.