It’s only three weeks before Africa’s largest football tournament kicks off and tickets for some games, including the final, cannot be printed. It’s still not clear, how should the national stadium be called…
South Africa’s national stadium belongs to the government (though leased for 99 years to the city of Johannesburg) and it’s that government who signed a naming rights deal with First National Bank (FNB) back in 2007. The deal was to last until 2014, giving the venue official name of ‘FNB Stadium’.
However, it’s a regular practice that sponsors waive their rights for large tournaments to comply with the brand-free requirements by football’s governing bodies. This was the case in 2010, as the stadium was known by the name of Soccer City for a few months.
What was clear then isn’t equally obvious now as FNB declines to waive its rights. The sponsor demands compensation and after having won in Supreme Court just a month back, FNB believe to have a case against Stadium Management SA. FNB were outraged as the stadium’s operator refused to refer to it as FNB Stadium, using the 2010-name Soccer City persistently, against the contract.
This tense atmosphere led to deadlock which may threaten South Africa’s image. It’s only three weeks until the African Cup of Nations starts and tickets for games taking place in Johannesburg aren’t printed yet as no naming policy has been reached.