World Cup has arrived

Posted on June 9, 2010. Filed under: World Cup |

Kate Lefko-Everett

Ready or not, the soccer World Cup is here, and I can hear the vuvuzelas outside my window this morning!

I think its fair to say that many in South Africa have mixed feelings about the event – the costs of hosting are high, as are expectations of the economic and social boons the World Cup promises, yet even knowing this our excitement is difficult to contain.

I thought this week’s Mail & Guardian editorial (excerpted) captured these sentiments quite well:

“There have been some terrible things perpetrated in the name of football.

Children in Nelspruit were evicted from their schools – currently being used as Fifa’s offices in the city – and teaching was only properly re-accommodated three years later.

The urban poor have been criminalized and removed from cities like Durban and Cape Town: either dumped at the city limits to fend for themselves or in inhumane transit camps like Blikkiesdorp…

National sovereignty and our Constitution appear to have been ignored as municipal bylaws and countrywide legislation have been passed to abet Fifa’s profit objectives. This despite criticism that they are infringements of the freedom of movement and speech, among other rights…

South Africans have had a lot to put up with – including seeing money splurged on mega-stadiums, the viability of which is questionable. Despite all that, on some level, the ordinary punters have won. There are indications that 2010 may be the most attended World Cup in history, with Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke projecting tournament ticket sales of more than 97%.

This is because South Africans have responded to the World Cup with staggering enthusiasm. We’ve demonstrated that we love football and are ready to fall in love with the World Cup and all those who visit us. More to the point, we are in love with the idea of ourselves as a happy, successful country, united in diversity.

So we are angry at the government’s supine posture before Fifa, but we’re brimful of enthusiasm at the way South Africans have claimed back the Cup and we’re hanging onto that joy for all it’s worth.”

Full text of the editorial is available in the M&G’s print edition this week. Of course, the media has featured extensive analysis of the World Cup over the last few months, but I thought I would share a few interesting sources…

Collette Schulz Herzenberg of the Institute for Security Studies recently edited an interesting monograph entitled Player and Referee: Conflicting interests and the 2010 FIFA World Cup ™, which can be downloaded from the Information Portal on Corruption (IPOC) website.

This morning, I also came across this article by William Reed, which features analysis by IJR’s Jan Hofmeyr – South Africa in the Spotlight.

Other interesting pieces to share? Leave a comment below!

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