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World Cup opportunities

2010-06-30 12:06
Many people in South Africa are grateful for the World Cup because of the many opportunities the tournament has created.

Some will tell you about the jobs. Others will talk about the infrastructure. I will talk about my enhanced exposure to English tabloid newspapers.

When they can’t get enough of the salacious celebrity gossip that defines their character, English tabloid newspapers have, in the run up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, come to cheapen the noble character of the journalism trade – so much that they would even make stories up.

One thing that is more frustrating than their false – and sometimes even malicious – reporting is the fact that you can’t argue with them rationally about their wicked stories. Real, credible newspapers leave space for dissenting voices.

Even our own (admittedly equally cheap) tabloids do. English tabloids don’t.

Those who often ask the question, “Why are the English tabloids so despicable?” have no hope of getting coherent answers because none exists. It’s all about making money out of people’s ignorance.

The reporting on South Africa’s preparations for – and hosting of – the 2010 FIFA World Cup provide an excellent example.
One of the papers has consistently – and with varying degrees of success – tried to warn English football fans, most of whom are white, not to travel to South Africa for the World Cup because, it says, black South Africans are waging a race war against whites.

As a result of a so-called “special investigation”, the newspaper once said it had discovered a “secret war in South Africa that threatens to overshadow the World Cup”. The war didn’t exist, of course. It was all an invention, a racist invention seemingly meant to portray blacks as primitive and heritably criminal.

Most of their reporting on South Africa, in many instances spiced with bits of snobbery (over and above the coveted racism), is laughable to those who are exposed the realities in the country. But to those who’ve never been here, it may sound real and convincing – and that is the worrying factor, their potential to mislead and tarnish the country’s image internationally.

What’s more pitiful is that some of the writers of these articles seem to believe the lies they write.

English tabloids have compromised our image abroad and possibly even deterred a potentially larger international audience from coming to the World Cup. They prey on people’s ignorance for their existence.

The biggest consolation, though, is that South Africans are answering back to the cynicism and racism through dignified actions. The tabloids say we can’t host the World Cup and we host it.

They say the first football World Cup on African soil would be marred by mobs of black criminals attacking whites with machetes and we prove them wrong.

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