South Africa’s tourism ministry has denied report suggesting that it was planning to spend almost $83 million to sponsor English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.
A report from the Daily Maverick weekly paper in South Africa cited documents seen by the publication claiming that the government, via its marketing agency SA Tourism, was preparing a proposal to sponsor the perennially underachieving team.
The paper even said that Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was keen for the deal to be signed ahead of a cabinet reshuffle. The sponsorship was set to be announced during the State of the Nation address on 10 February.
The report caused a wave of outrage on social media and uproar among opposition political parties. The Democratic Alliance party described the sponsorship as “lunacy” and “a slap in the face of every South African whose hard-earned tax will be used to sponsor a first-world football team.”
The tourism ministry, meanwhile, denied the claims.
“This reported deal is purely an SAT [SA Tourism] board matter on which Minister Sisulu has not been formally briefed by the board,” it said in a statement.
“Like any other board, the SAT board is independent and Minister Sisulu does not interfere with its decisions. Essentially, the SAT proposal is to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.”
However, Premier League clubs are increasingly signing deals with foreign countries to promote them as destination. Tottenham’s north London rivals Arsenal penned a deal with Rwanda in 2021, for example, while Abu Dhabi sponsors Manchester City.
Lead image credit: Harry Kane
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