South Africa: Four sport federations banned from bidding

South Africa cricketer Temba Bavuma
Temba Bavuma became the first black African cricketer to make a Test century for South Africa in January 2016

South Africa's sports minister has banned four of the country's sport federations from bidding for major international tournaments after they failed to create enough opportunities for black players.

Rugby, cricket, athletics and netball are the affected federations.

The South African Rugby Union had said it would bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cupexternal-link by the time of the June deadline.

But minister Fikile Mbalula says the ban is in place for at least a year.

The South African government has long encouraged the country's main sport, rugby union, to create more opportunities for black players.

The country's five major sports federations agreed on various transformation targets with the government in 2014, but football was the only one to meet its target.

"I have therefore resolved to revoke the privilege of Athletics South Africa, Cricket South Africa, Netball South Africa and South African rugby to host and bid for major and mega international tournaments," Mbalula said in a statement.

The ban comes into effect immediately and Mbalula said the decision will be reviewed after he has received the results of the federations' transformation efforts for 2016-17, which could be as late as 2018.

Both the rugby and cricket federations said their officials would go into closed-door meetings with sports ministry officials after the announcement.

Athletics South Africa said it would need to study the "pronouncement'' made by Mbalula before commenting.

The ban will not affect the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which has already been awarded to Durban as the bid was led by the South African Olympic committee.

South Africa rugby
South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995, with Francois Pienaar receiving the trophy from Nelson Mandela


BBC Africa's Pumza Fihlani, in Johannesburg: Transformation in sport is a thorny issue here. South Africa's sporting codes are often criticised for being "too white", more than 20 years after the end of white minority rule.

But the minister's announcement is likely to be met with fierce criticism by some in sport's circles who argue that players should be selected on merit instead of colour.

Those who support the quota system - one of the measures introduced by Nelson Mandela's government to make sport more racially inclusive - say black players would never be fielded if federations were not forced to.

The honeymoon period is over here and South Africans are beginning to ask uncomfortable questions about the veracity of the "rainbow nation" concept.

Some say only once racism is addressed, across all sectors including sport, can the country look at doing away with affirmative action policies - and in the case of sport, leave it to the players to prove themselves on the field.

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