Can’t wait for 2010
Last week the majority of South African Union of Mine workers downed their tools and these included some construction workers upgrading or building new stadiums for the 2010 world cup. The western media jumped on the story and predicted gloom and doom for the soccer festival. It is not the first time though that the games have been given such negative publicity. After the xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg, Cape Town and other areas of South Africa, a few friends and colleagues of mine were not amused and neither was I. There was a strong consensus that the games should be moved with others suggesting that Germany should host them again. The media had a field day. FIFA president Sepp Blatter came out in South Africa’s defense to say the games are in Africa to stay.
Recently a contributor in a UK newspaper wrote of his apprehension of attending the games in South Africa saying the country has the world’s highest crime rate and that this had forced Group4Securicor to turn down a contract to provide security services at the games. He went on to describe how the FIFA Confederations Cup had exposed security and transportation issues and how these flaws will negatively impact on the main fiesta next year. He talked of South Africa not having enough dual lane highways, lack of street lights and of advice given the foreigners not to use public transport especially at night. He even talked of a brutal death of a European journalist covering the confederations cup although later on the circumstances of the death were corrected to state he was killed in a traffic accident. This accident was however used to justify his argument that South African roads are unsafe. He suggested the games be moved to Egypt because it is safer than South Africa despite having chaotic transport and choking pollution in the capital Cairo.
I have been to South Africa on a number of occasions over the years. I have driven on the streets of Pretoria, walked the streets of Bloemfontein, Sandton (at night) & Blairgowrie and have had a few beers in the bars of Soweto, Randburg and Pretoria. I may have been extremely lucky I didn’t kill my family in a car crash or was not mugged walking down the street at 8pm or was not harassed by a tsotsie in one of the night clubs. Or ‘my friend’ is just being a pessimist, suggesting that once you step out of that plane at OR Tambo Airport, you are at the mercy of the locals.
I intend to visit South Africa again next year to be part of the world cup. I had initially wanted to watch the few games I could on big screen from pubs or parks in Soweto, Mamelodi or Thembisa. The reason was simple – all games in Johannesburg and Pretoria have been sold out and now people have started selling their tickets in the UK for as much as £150! However my close friend I intend to travel with to SA has managed to convince me that I should buy a ticket even if it is for some game involving king makers. And here is why. We might never have a chance ever again to watch a world cup match live. So I will be scouring eBay, and if the worst comes to the worst, the queues outside the stadiums to get myself a ticket at a premium.
Now that union members have agreed terms and construction workers have gone back to work, all I can tell them is get the job done and do it well. Like MTN, the majority of South Africans and millions of soccer fans, I CAN’T WAIT FOR 2010!