South African President blocks SA Tourism board’s £42.5m sponsorship for silverware-shy Tottenham

Tottenham's Harry Kane, left, celebrates with Tottenham's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

PRETORIA – SA Tourism’s three-year multimillion-pound deal to sponsor English Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur is being opposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said Ramaphosa had yet to be briefed about the proposal and had no plans to announce it during the State of the Nation Address in February.

“Even though the Presidency has not been briefed, we do not think spending so much money in the manner that is being suggested will be justified,” Magwenya added.

SA Tourism proposed a three-year deal with the English Premier League side, worth £42.5 million (about R900 million), starting at the beginning of the 2023/24 season and ending at the end of the 2026/27 season.

In exchange for the whopping investment, SA Tourism will receive kit branding, interview backdrop branding, match-day advertising, partnership announcements, training camps in South Africa, and free access to tickets and stadium hospitality.

During a media briefing on Thursday, acting chief executive officer Themba Khumalo defended the deal, saying they expected the backlash.

“When you do something new and innovative, heroes and villains are the same person,” Khumalo said.

“The positive thing is that we’re all engaged in terms of how to recover the tourism sector. We’re of the view that when you do something innovative, this will happen.

“We were prepared for it, and we were sticking to our strategy, objective and mandate that’s outlined in the Tourism Act,” he added.

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