South African row brews over ‘slave wages’ for top players

June 22 – A row has broken out over wages in the top divisions of South African football following claims that Kaizer Chiefs’ Bruce Bvuma was earning just R5000 (£303) per month against the background of a FIFPro survey which suggests 38% of players are earning less than R8000 (£486) a month.

Bvuma’s agent refused to confirm or deny the figure whilst the Kaiser Chiefs issued a statement saying: “The club would like to place on record that Bvuma has been part of the Kaizer Chiefs development structures since 2013/14.

“It was not anticipated that the player would be involved with the senior squad this season. However, after both first-team goalkeepers, Itumeleng Khune and Brilliant Khuzwayo, were sidelined through injury in March 2017, the club faced an emergency situation and, following a full assessment of the options available, elected to draft Bvuma into the senior squad after showing tremendous form in the MDC league.

“Kaizer Chiefs operates within a graded structure that provides the framework for contracts with players at development, reserve team and first team level.”

The controversy has reignited interest in a 2016 survey by FIFPro, the International Federation of Professional Footballers which found 38.4% of the 195 Premier Soccer League footballers who responded earned less than R8000 per month. 25% of the 195 had been paid late by their clubs over the last two years.

South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) General Secretary Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe told local media: “We’ve been pitching this [how much players should earn] since 2012. We’ve made a proposal of R35 000 in the Premier Soccer League and R15 000 to R18 000 in the National First Division as a minimum wage.

“Our issue is very simple… they need to change, they need to treat the players like workers, they need to improve the conditions of the employment of the players because the players themselves deserve better’” he added.

“In so far as the details of players’ contracts are concerned, the terms and conditions of such agreements are confidential between the club, the player and their representative/parents,” said the Kaiser Chiefs statement.

“As such, the salaries are subject to negotiations between the club, the players and their representatives/parents, and all contracts are finalised through the mutual agreement of all parties concerned.”

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