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Friday, June 23, 2006

World Cup - no the next one.

One of the hottest topics at the moment is, of course, the Soccer/Football World Cup being held in Germany. The South African team didn't make it anywhere near qualifying for the cup, and to be honest it's probably just as well since we'd make an ass of ourselves in the first rounds. Instead, I've been following the Croatian team, who sadly got knocked out of the competition last night by drawing 2-all with Australia (they needed a win to progress to the next round). Of course the World Cup holds particular interest for South Africans, since our country was selected to host the next World Cup, in 2010.

There has already been much debate as to whether hosting The Cup would have more positives or negatives for South Africa, and I am of the opinion that pulling it off successfully would definitely have an overall positive effect on the country. The trick is that little adjective 'successfully'. While hosting an event as prestigious and popular as the FIFA World Cup can be hugely beneficial to a country's economy and public image, being the first country in history to have the rights to host the competition taken away would most likely do irreparable damage to both of those elements.

Many super-patriots at this point would start grumbling that I'm just negative and a cynic. Sometimes that's true, but in this case I'm just being a realist. Two years ago I was one of the avid supporters that shot down any suggestions that we might not succeed, insisting that we could build the required stadiums and infrastructure, and that our government had it's act together enough to have everything ready in time. Unfortunately it's now two years on, and we're still in exactly the same position!

None of the required new stadiums have been built (in fact unless I'm mistaken construction on these stadiums has not even begun). We still do not have the new roads or public transport required to get people to and from games and their as-yet unbuilt accommodation. As far as the Gautrain is concerned, demolition has begun in areas such as Hatfield that will play host to terminals, but that's about it. On top of this FIFA enforces strict technological compliance requirements in terms of broadcasting and telecommunications which we are nowhere near meeting.

'But we have four years' I hear the die-hards whimpering. Well I have news for you, there's this little thing called the Confederation Cup, a tournament of 8 teams that is held the year before the World Cup in the same country that is to host the World Cup. In other words, our stadiums, infrastructure and other elements have to be ready in 2009. Oh, but wait, certain infrastructure and technology elements have to be completed, tested and handed over to FIFA two years before the World Cup, that means 2008. So we have less than two years to cut through the endless piles of political red tape our newly-over-beaurocratic government is shitting out on a daily basis and build roads, telecommunications and broadcast networks, accommodation and countless other things. The way things are progressing at the moment (something like a rusty battleship through frozen molasses) that's not very likely. Strangely enough based on recent comments it would appear that our politicians are under the misguided impression that they own the World Cup, rather than FIFA, and that FIFA somehow needs them. Unless something is done very, very soon we are headed for a political and economic catastrophe that South Africa will find it very hard to escape from.

Looking at the infamous efficiency and attention to detail of the Germans, and the incredible experience they are undoubtedly giving the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans that are flooding their country to enjoy The Cup, I doubt very much visitors in 2010 will be satisfied with paying a premium to board in tin shacks and squash into minibus taxis for a 2 hour long commute on the congested N1 to watch a match.



Justin Paver said...

Hey don't knock commuting until you've tried it.

... oh wait...

Atlanticist said...

I am sure S Africa will be a great host for the next world cup.

Thw World Cup has been such a great experience for everybody so far.

Flint said...

Of course it will, provided we fire 90% of the fools currently slowing down the process and replace them with individuals with triple-digit iq's, manage to convince all the technically-skilled workers that were chased out of the country because they were the wrong colour to come back and work for a pittance with no job security or chance of career development and miraculously dump accomodation and infrastructure capable of supporting our own population-never mind the enourmous numbers of visitors this event attracts.

As I said in my post, I have always been a supporter of the bid, but I live in South Africa, and the thing is that in the past two years almost no progress has actually been made towards developing the infrastructure we require to host the event. Remember how Greece had to scale down their grand plans and rush to get things finished on time to recieve the Olympic athletes and visitors? Compared to current South African progress, the Greek effort will look like German precision.
-We are still trying to deliver on ten year old housing promises for our own people, never mind building enough accomodation for visitors
-Our road system was insufficient to handle the traffic load 5 years ago and our traffic increases by almost 10% a year, now we need to try and get Cup visitors to games on time
-Our public transport system consists of: 1)privately-run minibus taxis that are expensive, overloaded, unroadworthy and generally driven by unlicenced buffoons. 2)a rail system that is also overcrowded and underserviced and never runs on schedule, not to mention being known for a lack of security and a level of violence higher than the average armed skirmish in Iraq. 3) Overcrowded, typically late bus services that are also renowned for a high accident rate and unreliable service. 4) A high speed commuter train joining Johannesburg, Pretoria/Tshwane and Johannesburg International-oh wait, construction has yet to begin on that project..
-You cannont play soccer in tsadiums that are not built. Construction has NOT EVEN BEGUN on the new stadiums that need to be built for the cup, and upgrading construction has also not yet begun. Addidas advertising may lead us to believe that world-class footballers will happily play their game in the streets among schoolchildren, but I suspect the reality is somewhat different.
-Last but not least, our crime rate is sky-high. In this country a carload of tourists heading to a soccer match is like an ATM card with an infinite daily withdrawal limit and no PIN number.. Except some application of blunt and ballistic weapons will be needed.

Party atmosphere is all good and well, but if you don't have the infrastructure, there's no way to get to the party!

pfangirl said...

You know, I'm very worried we're going to be stripped of the World Cup.

Not only would that be incredibly shameful, but it would be disastrous for our economy as I'm sure investors would lose complete faith in us!

Flint said...

Exactly, a lot of our recent economic growth has been thanks to investor confidence based on the benefits of hosting the World Cup. Not only will we lose those investors if it gets taken away, general investor confidence will most likely drop to an all time low.

pfangirl said...

Wow, check out this little stunt:,,2-7-1442_1959605,00.html

Flint said...

Yup, I saw that this morning. I think it's an excellent idea-everyone seems to be going out of their way to hide how bad things are from outside view, and that just makes it easier for the government to ignore the very real problem fo crime. Perhaps something like this will force them to wake up or risk losing their precious tourist income.

Oh wait, I'm not allowed to complain about the crime, am I.. I'm supposed to shut up or ship out.


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