SA football history
The Premier Soccer League, or PSL, as we know it
today, owes its existence to the various changes football development
has undergone in South Africa, some of them directly caused by the
turbulence of the apartheid era.
The first documented football match in South Africa was held
in 1862 and was played between two all-white teams, made up of civil
servants and soldiers. However, it was only in 1879 that the first
football club was established, the Pietermaritzburg County Football
Club. The club was for whites only. In 1880 African and Indian soccer
clubs were also founded.
The first football association, for whites only, was started
in 1882 and had a league made up of four clubs. The number of clubs
grew to 10 within a year. At this point integrated sport was banned by
The South African Football Association (SAFA) was established
10 years later, though it became known as the Football Association of
South Africa (FASA) in 1956. This too was a whites only association.
A number of other associations were formed to represent the
other racial groups in South Africa, most notably the Transvaal Indian
Football Association (1896), the South African Indian Football
Association (1903), the South African African Football Association
(1932), the South African Bantu Football Association (1933) and the
South African Coloured Football Association (1936).
In 1935, the Inter-race Soccer Board was formed by Africans,
coloureds and Indians and the first official tournament between the
three races was established, the Suzman Cup.
The next major development came in 1951. The South African
African Football Association (SAAFA), the South African Indian Football
Association (SAIFA) and the South African Coloured Football Association
(SACFA) formed the anti-apartheid South African Soccer Federation
A year later, the SAFA, still only representing whites, was
admitted to Fifa. Fifa then put pressure on the association until, in
1956, the name was changed to FASA and the racist exclusionary clause
was removed from its constitution.
It took another two years before the South African Bantu
Football Association became affiliated with the FASA. Fifa then
recognised that association as the sole governing body of football in
Professional football had its start in 1959. The National
Football League, the country’s first entirely professional club league,
was established in that year and, again, was a league in which only
whites could participate.
In 1961, Fifa back-tracked its decision and suspended the
FASA, which led the association to include some black players within
its own structure.
The SASF, which represented the black, coloured and Indian
population, started its own association football league in that year.
It was known as the South African Soccer League (SASL).
The year 1962 marked the appearance, short-lived, of the first
black women’s football teams, including the Orlando Pirates Women’s
Football Club and Mother City Girls.
However, 1962 also marked a tragedy. A total of 11 fans died
at Jeppe Station, Johannesburg, following a Moroka Swallows vs Orlando
Pirates derby at Natalspruit.
In 1963 the FASA announced that it would send an all-white
team to the 1966 World Cup and an all-black team to the 1970 World Cup.
The suspension was lifted by Fifa, but the euphoria didn’t last long.
The FASA was suspended again in 1964. The SASF leadership was
persecuted, arrested or banned.
Despite this the SASL ran until 1967, when it folded because
of a lack of playing grounds. In 1969, however, the Federation
Professional League was established.
The National Premier Soccer League was founded in 1971.
South Africa was formally expelled from Fifa in 1976 and the
National Football League folded the next year.
In 1985 the breakaway National Soccer League (NSL) was
launched in accordance with ant-apartheid principle.
In 1991 another tragedy hit South African football. In January
of that year, 41 fans died in a melee during a Pirates vs Chiefs
friendly at Oppenheimer Stadium, Orkney.
At the end of the year the four historically divided football
bodies united and the new non-racial South African Football Association
(SAFA) was formed.
The next year the SAFA was accepted back into Fifa and
domestic football was reorganised along non-racial, democratic
principles. South Africa re-entered international football and beat
Cameroon 1-0 in their first international match.
The Premier Soccer League, the trading name of the National
Soccer League, was established in 1996 by Irvin Khoza, Kaizer Motaung,
Raymond Hack and Jomo Sono.
Manning Rangers were the first to be crowned champions of the
PSL in 1997 when the Gordon Igesund-coached side stunned by winning the
title ahead of a number of more fancied opponents.
From 1998 to 2000 the league was dominated by Sundowns, who
pulled off a hat-trick of titles.
The league was made up of 18 teams but that number was reduced
to 16 during the 2001/2002 season to avoid fixture congestion.
In 2001, Igesund moved to Orlando Pirates and helped the
Buccaneers secure the title. The following season he moved to Cape
Town-based Santos, and steered it to win the league title, thus
becoming the first coach to win the championship with three different
Also in 2001, the worst disaster to ever hit
South African football occurred. There was a crush of fans during an
Orlando Pirates vs Kaizer Chiefs derby, resulting in the deaths of 43
In 2004, a match-fixing scandal rocked South African soccer.
An investigation codenamed "Operation Dribble" was launched by the
South African police in June 2004. More than 40 arrests were made,
ranging from club bosses to match commissioners, referees and their
Kaizer Chiefs successfully defended their league title in 2005
after they won the prestigious trophy in 2004 for the first time in a
The 2005/06 season saw Mamelodi Sundowns capturing the title
for the fourth time.
In 2007, the PSL signed a television deal with SuperSport
worth R1.6-billion. It is the biggest sporting deal in the history of
South Africa, and it took the PSL into the top 15 ranked leagues in the
world in terms of commercial broadcast deals.
Since its inception, the PSL has helped raise the standard of
club soccer in South Africa, providing the sport with better media
coverage and improved revenue through sponsorship deals.
It has also helped local players make their mark overseas,
which was a privilege unavailable to players in the past because of the
divided league system forced on the country by law.
* Information compiled from various sources on the Internet. If you feel anything has been misrepresented, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org