Football: S Africa team in boycott threat

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The Independent Online
south Africa's officials labelled their players as "greedy" and "mercenary" yesterday after the team threatened to boycott today's international against England over a pay dispute.

The South African Football Association said they had been forced by the players to hand over the total match fee of pounds 125,000 after the players refused to play unless their appearance money was increased.

This is not the first occasion that the South African team have threatened a boycott, but it will be the last. "This is the final time that the association will allow itself to be blackmailed," a spokesman said.

"We are making a stand because we believe we deserve the money," said one player. "Why should we settle for less when the bosses are caught helping themselves."

Players and officials were locked in negotiations most of yesterday, delaying a training session at Old Trafford by six hours. Officials eventually agreed to give the players an increased fee, but said the action could jeopardise future international engagements.

"We decided with great reluctance to hand over the money in order to protect our integrity and our agreement with the Football Association in England," the SAFA said.

"The decision by the squad to hold us to ransom has been nothing short of mercenary. The players have not only put their own international careers in jeopardy, but also the future of South Africa's participation in the international arena."

Six years ago, Cameroon's Roger Milla refused to play against England at Wembley because he was not given a special match fee by the FA.

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