South Africa is pursuing a sponsorship deal with Premier League club Tottenham, following in the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates, Rwanda, Malta and others who have used the world’s biggest soccer league to promote their countries.
The Ministry of Tourism said on Wednesday it was looking to conclude a memorandum of understanding with Tottenham through SA Tourism, which is the tourism marketing arm of the government.
South African media reports claimed the deal would be worth 48 million euros over three years from the start of the 2023-2024 season and give SA Tourism branding space on Tottenham’s uniform, among other things. The Ministry of Tourism didn’t give financial details of the deal and said it must still gain final approval from the government.
Right now, the proposal was to conclude a memorandum of understanding with Tottenham, the ministry said.
Tottenham’s north London rival Arsenal has a “Visit Rwanda” message on its shirt sleeve, while UAE’s two official airlines, Emirates and Etihad, are the principal sponsors of Arsenal and Manchester City, respectively.
Manchester United has an agreement to promote the Mediterranean island nation of Malta.
The proposed deal was criticised by a South African opposition party, which said the money reportedly involved — which is equivalent to more than 900 million South African rand — represented nearly 40 percent of SA Tourism’s budget. The party, ActionSA, also questioned who would benefit from some of the other perks of the deal for South Africa.
It “arguably has more to do with the benefit officials and politicians will derive from the agreement, including gaining access to stadium hospitality and tickets at Tottenham Hotspur games in London,” ActionSA said.
SA Tourism has been active in promoting South Africa after the country’s important tourism sector was badly impacted by travel lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. SA Tourism has also partnered with the streaming service Netflix to promote South Africa to potential international visitors.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will give his State of the Nation address on February 10th and it’s believed the deal will be announced then.