Mamelodi Sundowns, the PSL, La Liga and all other stakeholders have reassured South African fans that Barcelona are will be coming to the country next week.
In a press conference that was held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on Thursday, La Liga ambassador Antonio Baradas confirmed that the proposed game is going ahead as initially planned and announced by the Brazilians.
Baradas went further to thank Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe for making the event possible.
“This is only happening because of Dr Patrice Motsepe, Dr Danny Jordaan. Motsepe worked hard to get Barcelona here,” Baradas told the media in Johannesburg.
Catalunya Radio reported on Wednesday that Barcelona wanted payment guarantees before they could travel to South Africa, but Motsepe said he had no doubt that the game would eventually take place.
Motsepe admitted that they had to allow internal processes at Barcelona to take place, and somehow confessed that they jumped the gun by announcing the proposed match without taking into consideration that 2018 was the Fifa World Cup year even though they were given the go ahead to make it public.
“We had no doubt that the game will take place. We had to allow internal processes within Barcelona to take place,” he added.
“We were told in good faith to make the announcement. What we did not recognise is that it is the world cup year. The main concern was that players have to avoid fatigue,” said Motsepe.
“Today [Thursday] is the right time to announce. We would like to express our deep gratitude as Motsepe Foundation and Mamelodi Sundowns,” Motsepe continued.
The Sundowns boss revealed that they still have to help Barcelona with acquiring Visas for the match to go ahead, but Minister of Energy in South Africa Jeff Radebe, who was part of the press conference, assured Motsepe that Malusi Gigaba, SA’s Minister of Home Affairs will make it happen.
Minister of Sport an Recreation Thokozile Xasa is pleased that Sundowns pulled all the stops to bring the Spanish giants to South Africa for the second time in just over a decade, saying this is a sign that the country ‘can do it’.
“This is a sign of confidence for Sundowns to bring Barcelona. It shows that South Africa can do it,” said Xasa.
Meanwhile, Barcelona have officially confirmed the fixture on their social media platforms.
Barcelona released the following statement on their official website on Thursday afternoon:
FC Barcelona will be playing its part in the events to commemorate what would have been Nelson Mandela’s one hundredth birthday as they travel to South Africa for a friendly game on May 16 against ABSA Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns. The team will travel to Johannesburg the day before the match, which kicks off at 6.15pm (both local time and CET) in the FNB Stadium, formerly known as Soccer City Stadium.
The teams will be playing for the Mandela Centenary Cup, which forms part of the celebrations of the life of Nelson Mandela in 2018. The game presents a wonderful opportunity for South African supporters of Barça, and is being organised by the South African Football Association together with LaLiga World Challenge.