Saturday, May 24, 2008

South Africa as World Cup host

I have said it before, but here I am going to underline it: am not looking forward to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and I believe FIFA made a great mistake by giving the World Cup to South Africa in its eagerness to give it to some African country.
While I think South Africans current attitude to foreigners is a popular disgrace from a country that should know better (how about some of the neighboring countries having to play there?), I do not believe the South Africans have what it takes to organize a pleasant, world class tournament which welcomes the world, like we have seen in Germany, Japan/Corea, France, USA, etc. The country is gorgeous, yes, but suffering by violence, poverty and corruption. I am afraid that with prices of tickets and organizational issues, we will see as many empty stadiums as we saw during the African Nations Cup in Ghana in January.
And Ghana is a footballing nation, with a talent and passion for the game which is unheard of in South Africa!

It is often mentioned how important it is for a tournament that the host nation does well (that is one of the reasons the hosts don't have to qualify, as well as get an automatically easier draw by being seeded highest), but would South Africa do well...? Although it is hard if not impossible to predict, I think we may be looking at an elimination in the first round: South Africa didn't participate in the 2006 World Cup, they were plainly bad in the African Nations Cup, and talented South Africans players are notably absent from big European clubs where other African players are superstars (a notable example perhaps being the ageing Benny McCarthy in Blackburn?). And while there have been rumours about Carlos Alberto Parreira's resignation as South African coach, the new and relatively unknown Joel Santana does not bode well for the organization of the South African team...

South African sport has always been dominated by rugby (where they are great world champions) and cricket; South Africa is simply not a footballing nation. With a world cup on its door, one can already see the large commercials and promotional posters, but the "fever" which grips other countries is unexistant; it is hard even to find a pub to watch a Champions League game in Johannesburg, and when finding it, one finds that nobody watches it nor cares.

If the world cup must be held in Africa, it should be in one of the many great African footballing nations: Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, Cameroun... However, as is true, these countries do not seem to have what is called the "organizational infrastructure".
Apparently South Africa does (just don't walk out at night, specially if you are from a neighboring African country).

Such a great event belongs to real footballing nations and although I have been wrong before, I have very low expectations to a World Cup in South Africa.


Anonymous said...

As with many people I have also considered that the World Cup 2010 in South Africa should move to another country.

BUT, (and I am not saying it should or shouldn't - this is simply a perspective on the matter) consider the following:
Here is a country that has been through its fare share of misery and pain over the years.A great many people are uneducated and unskilled (for whatever reasons quoted: "oppression in the past", "failures of government", whatever the reason - the fact remains).

Here is a country that has had this "time-bomb" activated a long time ago. But only now has it exploded. (Actually, I think it hasn't exploded yet!)

And here is also, Africa's ONLY hope!

Europe's lack of compassion for Africa (I refer to the G8 summit where it was very easy for only one vote to prevent financial aid from going to the continent) confirms that.

There are two ways to look at this World Cup:
1. Being callous and cruel and saying "take it from them and let them 'solve their own problems' "
2. Or, taking a different perspective and saying "OK, here is a nation (and people) in trouble. In need of help. Let's finally get off our comfort-zone buttocks and HELP them!"

Yes, there are the Mugabe's of the world who don't want "interference from the west".

But forget the Mugabe's. Forget the alleged (or completely true!) "failures of government", "the corruption", and consider the people!

Unless aid is given to the country (and not only financial). All of Africa will suffer.

My definition of "aid" is "teaching a man to fish".

If anything is learned from these recent atrocities it is that Africa (and by that we mean South Africa) needs help - and perhaps a bit of "western" intervention.

The World Cup is the ONLY "symbol" of a future for this country. If it is pulled from them. Whatever investments exist in the country will be pulled out. Whatever skilled people remain in the country will surely leave.

And all of Africa will go to pot.

Ricardo - A South African in Europe (now with a different viewpoint of home)

El Erik said...

Hi Ricardo, thanks a lot for your insightful and very passionate comment about the world cup in South Africa!
However, i must disagree with some of your points, in aprticular seeing them in relation to my own experience working with donor agencies (gov and NGO) in Africa. I dont hope nor think that the WC in SA is as you say "Africa´s ONLY hope".
I believe Africa is a very diverse continent, with different countries (more different than Europeans) with very different futures. The hope lies in Africans themselves, and that is what they should be helped for by donors.
The WC, as important as it is, should not be the "ONLY hope" for Africa. If that is the case, Africa will never change.
For South Africa, specifically, I am not looking at it in any of the two ways you say it. I dont believe that it is there to "help them". it shows confidence in the country, but they should have things in order before the cup: the WC is not an aid mechanism (and this many may disagree with...)
I also dont believe that it should be taken from them because of what you say as "let them solve their own problems". My main regret is that, as a football fans, I dont believe we will see the same passion as in other world cups, simply because we will not be in a nation wher football is a passion.
Whenever I have been to South Africa, I have loved its beauty, its people and its sad but intersting history - as a football fan though, I dont think they should have the world cup.

El Erik said...

BTW, also wanted to post this on the site you are linking to above, but couldnt find where to reply!
Take care.