EFF calls on South Africans to join ‘the people's picket' against closure of stadiums

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EFF calls on South Africans to join ‘the people’s picket’ against closure of stadiums
© Provided by Times Live

The EFF will on Thursday picket outside the offices of the department of sport, arts and culture in Pretoria against lockdown restrictions that prohibit spectators from attending live events at stadiums.

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On Monday the party called on South Africans to join what it called “the people’s picket to demand the opening of stadiums”.

Under alert level 1 of lockdown, gatherings are limited to no more than 1,000 indoors and no more than 2,000 people outdoors. 

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FNB Stadium in Gauteng was briefly open for Bafana Bafana football matches last year, but sports arenas remain largely closed to fans. 

The EFF pledged its support to athletes and performers affected by the restrictions.

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“Athletes, creatives, artists and all who depend on gatherings to make an income, the EFF remains your only reliable ally. The EFF is with you and will fight with you. This is your home,” said the party.

Last week, party leader Julius Malema told journalists if the picket does not yield the desired results, the party will protest at the offices of the SA Football Association and the Premier Soccer League. 

He accused certain politicians and “elite ANC-aligned individuals” of “monopolising” soccer matches broadcast on some television channels. Malema said this marginalised the poor who can only afford to watch matches live at stadiums.

“They are enjoying this thing of people watching on DStv because it means more money and more viewership for DStv. Those who do not have DStv can’t enjoy the beauty of football in SA.

“Afcon is playing, people are at the stadiums, what is different here in SA?” asked Malema.

He added the implications of stadium closures went far beyond the performers and soccer players.  It also affected informal traders who relied on live matches and events at stadiums to make a living.

Malema first called for the reopening of stadiums during the party’s Siyabonga rally in eThekwini earlier this month. 

He said the decision to keep spectators from attending live events was not science-based.

“Why is the PSL silent when political parties are meeting in soccer stadiums, yet soccer clubs are not allowed to meet in stadiums? That is absolute nonsense, it’s not science.

“We want our soccer back, we want our entertainment back, we want our festivals back, we want our economy opened for all of us,” said Malema.  

TimesLIVE ran a poll asking whether spectators should be allowed at stadiums.

67% of those who responded said it was time we returned to stadiums, while 19% said they feared superspreader events. 13% said they were unaffected by the restrictions since they don’t attend live events. 

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