Responding to the tag of ‘populist’ during the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Gauteng Provincial Ground Forces Forum, party leader Julius Malema invoked the memory of the #RhodesMust Fall university protests as he denounced the Springboks as an ‘apartheid symbol’. Malema’s point was to question how he could be a populist if he was willing to go against the apparent popular support for the Springboks following their recent back-to-back Rugby World Cup victory. Without engaging this debate, suffice to say that the issue of populism has to do with the extent to which the current democratic dispensation is experienced by citizens as being different from the previous colonial-apartheid one, I instead want to riff on Malema’s statement, ‘I will remain [with] Bafana Bafana until the team of South Africa is brought back into action,’ because it speaks to the idea of sport having a bearing on national identity and its representation.

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