Friday, 11 June 2010

2010 World Cup - Should Africa Be Really Celebrating?

Over the last few days, with the world coming to the African continent, albeit on what is arguably the world's biggest extravaganza ( and longest too considering that we 'suffer' for the next 30 days), we have been mulling over what maybe a huge oversight for the continent's nations to consider now and future contests. There have been quite a number of issues that we need to observe and see what is REALLY in it ( pessimistic some may call it...) ;
 Image courtesy of
1) Publicity - While the media is obviously at a frenzy with every media house saying it's number one in this or that reportage, the last few years since South Africa was confirmed as the host of the tournament has seen some trying times for the continent. From the constant negativity on whether the country would be able to prepare the venues in time, to the intended ban of the vuvuzela, and over-exaggeration of security (shall cover it in a separate point this example). Surely if you look at it, this is the time the world needs to come to relax and absorb in some peaceful moments and what better place than what maybe the least unexploited and compromised continent thus far.

2) Security - as indicated above, the Western media has exaggerated some of the concerns that have risen over security arrangements for the visitors. While we cannot overlook this issue, it maybe of interest to see that some of the conditions that we are currently operating in were created by the very powers-that-be. Terrorism was not Africa's concern and SHOULD NOT have visited us if the US and other Western countries had not meddled in Middle East and parts of Asia. If what Kenyans endured in the last few days is anything to go by, there is surely not much to celebrate - making us feel like 2nd-class citizens in our own countries - BARBS!!!

3) Commercialisation ( Overdrive) - delving into some of the nitty-gritties of the tournament and the FIFA's marketing strategies make's one wonder whether its good for sports or are we approaching another crisis of sorts? From a tight monopoly in issuing sponsorship places to a huge booty that comes with the territory -calling the shots from a tight leadership structure- blocking out many a company that may have a stake or more in the game. While it is good for companies to commit to sport some money, some of the officials look more for greed ( to help finance their fancy lifestyles) than investing in the long-term growth of the game. We know about the hospitality issue here.We have also seen more autocracy than 'democracy' especially here in Africa where Confederation of African Football CAF's made to look like the whipped kid and federations forced to put up - if Kenya's case is anything to consider. There is the issue of bribery and match-fixing which rears its head every once in awhile
The financial crisis in some of the European leagues shows us that it may not be as rosy as FIFA leads companies to believe, putting too much money on hot air. Read the book - The Global Politics of Sport: The Role of Global Institutions in Sport by Lincoln Allison for more interesting perspectives.

4) Infrastructure development and other capital-intensive works - While the discerning football fan maybe excited for finding top notch facilities and infrastructure, why do Governments in Africa need to have such tournaments to start making this happen? Why can't we just develop the infrastructure for our own citizenry and sake instead of trying to 'cover our nakedness' and 'sweeping the dirt ' for our visitors who are only here for some few days or months? It shocks and makes me sick how African states treat foreign dignitories especially from the West - it's as if all they will see is the fanciness of our buildings and all that.
More concerns need to be raised if recent countries hosting major tournaments are to considered. Greece currently tottering on huge public debt can trace back some of the problems to 2004 Olympic Games which though beautiful and historic ended up leaving the public paying through their noses for under-utilised facilities.
Image Courtesy of Adidas
5)Sports - are we enjoying the sport for what it is? When players and managers alike start giving excuses such as they are with the vuvuzela and ball - Jabulani dynamics, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. If they don't like it, then we can leave the stadiums empty and have them carry their own balls and see if they can play at all. If anything, the reason fans flock the stadium is to see goals scored, the more the better.
On the other hand, we have seen Africa's place not get enough support with more window dressing in our opinion. With the contintent having more than 45 active federations, 6 places from the continent are not sufficient and representative enough for such a passionate lot. Suffice it to say, that if there were at least 8 -10 teams, we could have a fair chance of winning the tournament and a truly global event if FIFA's word is to be believed.

6) Overdrive and over-exposure - this covers two aspects; the players and FIFA's calendar of events. The growing list of injuries shows that quite a number of them are suffering from overdrive and exposure from playing too many games within one season. This leads us to the next point where FIFA has quite a number of tournaments and events within a year. Isn't this a bit of over-exposure which might lead to saturation or destruction at some point?Africa has its share of stars who will be missing from the roster thanks to this
Image courtesy of AP
7) Future of Sports in the continent - if the South African World Cup achieves the intended success ( don't know how it shall be quantified...), the continent may have a chance of hosting future major events. Consideration ought to be given to dual hosts to ease the burden on one state and give a wider spread of the game. But if the tournament does not live to the standards or the hype that some have put it in, Africa shall be for a long time be banished as '3rd-world' that much of the rest of the world likes branding us. Can we prove them wrong?  Relive past World Cups in brief and see if we shall hack it..You can also read some interesting books here on football and all the politics around it as well here

Watch the games & may your favourite team win and see you in 30 days...

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