CAPE TOWN – Benni McCarthy may be the Mother City’s favourite son, but he’s not very happy with Cape Town at the moment.
The reason for the Cape Town City coach’s disappointment and anger is the fact that he has to take his team to Durban to play a “home” game against Maritzburg United next week.
There are no venues available in the Cape – and McCarthy believes it’s a simple case of poor planning on behalf of the administrators who run the city, as well as the dismissive attitude with which the sport of football is treated in the region.
City will face Maritzburg at the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban next week.
“It is a dark day for football. I’ve been away from Cape Town for 21 years and, while so much has changed, nothing has changed,” said McCarthy in an official statement.
“Cape Town City is a club that has captured the imagination and dreams of Capetonians from all walks of life. With little assistance, it has brought endless accolades to Cape Town and united its people.
“However, it is with great sadness to my players, this club, our fans, and all the football-loving people of Cape Town that we must confirm that our upcoming home match versus Maritzburg United will be played away from home, in Durban.”
“From a footballing perspective, a win will take City to the top of the log in the nation’s most prestigious competition. And to play that crucial game in the opposition’s province (where KZN were easily able and willing to accommodate us) is quite frankly hurtful and embarrassing.
“The Cape Town Stadium is unavailable due to the setting up of Rugby 7s, but we have become accustomed to being removed from Cape Town Stadium for events far less significant. It blows my mind how a stadium that only exists because of the Soccer World Cup, cannot be reserved for 15 out of 365 days for the City’s premium soccer team.
“Football has been sold lies in Cape Town. When there is a private wedding, the stadium is ready. When there’s a rugby competition, the stadium is ready. When there’s a nitro circus car event, the stadium is ready. For football, Cape Town’s World Cup stadium is unavailable.
“Athlone Stadium has become a sand patch. Newlands is unavailable. Make an emergency plan at another venue across the entire Western Cape – um, sorry we didn’t think that far ahead. But our fixtures are no secret? It’s about planning and willingness – and I cannot believe that our officials cannot see the immense commercial, cultural, and community impacts that Cape Town City has in this city.
“The power of football changes lives, and brings people together. It is the people’s game. When will Cape Town City have a home? The only way the severity of this treatment can be understood is ironically through the eyes of rugby.
“Imagine the Stormers, with a chance to go top of the log, were told that they must play their next crucial home game against the Sharks in Durban. Season tickets sold, fans eagerly awaiting, and the players prepared to represent Cape Town.
“It’s hard to imagine it, because it will never happen. Football people, although an overwhelming majority in this country, do not seem to count as much in Cape Town. With all that has been said and promised, the old reality has returned. Football in Cape Town has been forced into exile.”