South Africa will continue to be known as Bafana Bafana after paying $732,000 to secure rights to the nickname. The sum will be paid over 12 months to licensing company Stanton Woodrush, who registered the nickname 18 years ago. “We feel very happy about the acquisition of the name which allows us to exploit this great brand for the good of the game,” said South African (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani. Stanton Woodrush bought the Bafana trademark after Safa failed to do so. The deal brings to a close a highly-divisive issue which had pitted the association against the licensing company in court and also concludes months of post-World Cup negotiations. “The future now looks very bright as this move has begun to open better opportunities for us to venture into real partnerships with various sponsors,” Nematandani added.
Bafana Bafana was a moniker first attached to the team in 1992 by a newspaper reporter. Loosely translated from Zulu, it means “our boys” and quickly became popular although it was shunned at first by the football association. After South Africa won the 1996 African Nations Cup, the nickname became firmly attached to the team and the association sought to embrace it. Yet they had already been beaten to the registration of the name as a trademark by businessman Stan Smidt, who owned Johannesburg-based Stanton Woodrush. “We recognise that the team and the brand are inextricably linked and that they are indivisible in the sense that they have one identity,” said a Stanton Woodrush spokesperson after the deal. “The brand without the team and the team without the brand would significantly dilute the goodwill which is entrenched through their association.”
Safa lost a court case over the intellectual property rights nine years ago but later went into a partnership with Stanton Woodrush for apparel and licensing sales using the nickname, worth an estimated $7.32m. After last year’s World Cup in South Africa, Safa made a renewed bid to gain sole rights to the nickname and held lengthy negotiations. At one point, it threatened to ditch the team’s association with Bafana Bafana and organise a public poll for a new nickname.
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