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The World Cup so far

2010-06-28 11:22
Today is Day 18 of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As a proud South African I am impelled to reflect on the events leading to the tournament and the state of the tournament so far.

Never in the history of the tournament has a designated host country been subjected to unfair scrutiny and commentary like South Africa was. Soon after the country won the right to host this greatest sporting spectacle some people made it their preoccupation to question our country’s suitability to host the tournament.

The saddest thing was that there were many South Africans who partook in the orgy of bad-mouthing and slandering of their own country. We know that some people in this country even went to the extraordinary lengths of setting up a website meant to discourage international soccer fans from coming to the country.

Visitors to the website were given FIFA’s fax numbers so that they can pressure FIFA to reconsider its decision to give the hosting right to SA. Gruesome pictures of supposedly victims of crime were posted on the website to show how dangerous and barbaric our country was. Surprisingly, this “concern” for the safety of visiting fans was only reserved for soccer fans while rugby and cricket fans were never advised to stay away. The whole thing smacked of naked racism and bigotry.

As the tournament progresses smoothly past its halfway mark without any major criminal activity one wonders whether those people have realised the folly of their actions. They told the world that those who will come here for the football risked being raped and murdered the moment they set foot at the airport.

Now that none of these scary stories have materialised will these people have the humility to apologise to the government and the South African public at large? Of course the tournament is not over yet but would these people wait for the final day to say “we told you so” if visitors were being raped and murdered in and around the soccer stadia?

Having attended four matches there is no doubt in my mind that South Africa has pulled out all stops to make this tournament a success. Except for minor hitches like the Park and Ride arrangement everything seems very well organised. It is also clear that most of the visitors are enjoying their stay in the country. Those who heeded the “advice” of the racists not to come must be very rueful.

Some people must be very worried that at the end of this tournament the racist lies they tell about our country will in future be taken with a pinch of salt. I can only hope that having seen the futility of their campaign and for their own sake these people will in future focus their energies in activities that will make our country a better place for all of us.

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