The Million Dollar Game

Published 4 years ago
soccer

Waves of fans poured into the FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, in regalia rivalling the world’s most jubilant festivals, to watch South Africa’s biggest Premier Soccer League teams Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs clash it out for the Soweto Derby.

The stadium, also known as The Calabash and home to the Chiefs, seats 87,436 fans and rumbled with vuvuzelas and unbridled euphoria. The Soweto Derby is one of the most fiercely-contested matches in African football. Between the two rivals, there have been 163 past derbies‚ and of that, 67 won by Chiefs and 39 by Pirates.

However, it would seem that Pirates are making inroads to close the gap. Chiefs have not managed to claim a victory against Pirates since 2015; the equivalent of 12 matches and 1,496 long days.

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In this image, fans wear the traditional team colors; gold and black for Chiefs, black and white for Pirates. They wait with bated breath and watch the players who will control the course of their destiny – for at least the next 90 minutes.

The whistle blows and the stadium roars in anticipation. This is an event that spectators and organizers alike bank on.

“Just out of this event, we are looking at just over R30 million ($2.2 million) contribution to the local economy. We are talking sales from a granny selling pap and vleis, to the guy selling merchandise and the guys helping to park cars. That’s what sports does,” says Barba Gaoganediwe, Head: Destination Promotions and Marketing for Gauteng Tourism.

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Unfortunately, the match ends in a draw and neither side is pleased as they disappear into the changing rooms to plot the defeat of the other side for when they meet next.