MASERU – The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has signed a partnership agreement with German marketing and television giant Sportfive.
The two-month courtship was finally sealed last Friday and was officially announced and signed at a press conference on Saturday morning at Bambatha.
The agreement will boost Lesotho in its attempts to attract international sides to camp in the country for next year’s World Cup to be held in neighbouring South Africa.
The development is a welcome relief. In June Lesotho failed to meet FIFA’s World Cup accommodation accreditation standards while the continued unavailability of the national stadium, Setsoto, would have made attracting national teams improbable.
“We engaged in several activities and one of them was to get Sportfive on board to assist Lesotho in trying to get a team to the Kingdom,” LEFA chief executive officer Mokhosi Mohapi said at the conference.
Sportfive are already the marketing and television partners of African football’s governing body CAF. The company also has co-operation agreements with several other African nations.
“This is not new territory for us. We have had a contract with CAF for the last six to seven years (and) we have signed a new deal with CAF,” Nicholas MacGowan von Holstein, manager of Sportfive’s friendly match co-ordination, said.
“Bringing in a team is a huge undertaking. 250 journalists will accompany each team,” he added, “(But) not only did the FA want to bring a football team but the government and the people of Lesotho.”
Sportfive are the official sales agent in Europe for FIFA’s 2010 World Cup hospitality programme. The co-operation between LEFA and Sportfive will run until the end of the showpiece. As part of the agreement, natural grass will be laid over Setsoto’s artificial turf at the start of next year. Sportfive will also grant financial aid to LEFA.
“We believe as a nation we will be able to benefit from this exclusive agreement,” LEFA vice-president Tlholo Letete said, “Sportfive believe that we have the potential to host a foreign team next year.”
Speaking to the Lesotho Times afterwards MacGowan von Holstein said assurances had been given about Setsoto, Lesotho’s biggest stumbling block.
“We have been told that by March next year the stadium will be ready,” he said. “(But) it depends on what is not ready, mostly important teams need to have a pitch to play on.”
Sportfive has co-operations with 52 national teams and is the official partner of over 250 football clubs, including European giants Liverpool and Real Madrid.