Organised criminal gangs in South Africa have admitted today that they are at least three months behind schedule in their preparations for the 2010 Football World Cup. The news is a blow to the credibility of the South African government which secured the tournament on a platform of providing unparalleled violence and intimidation to travelling fans, and there are now real fears that some visiting supporters could return home unharmed and still in possession of their wallets.
‘We are committed to delivering a World Cup which will be remembered for its flair, its passion and its high body count,’ said Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile today. ‘Things have changed in South Africa, and we have followed a rigorous process of fair and open competition to appoint only the nation’s most dangerous criminals as our official partners. Gangs have trebled in size in anticipation of the thousands of visiting victims, and at the suggestion of former president Thabo Mbeki, we stand ready to move back-office staff away from HIV drug distribution and into front-line violence provision.’
FIFA remains concerned, though, that not all fans will have the necessary access to robbery and wounding, and their officials have questioned the historical sensitivity of the South Africans’ proposal to segregate opposing fans at matches, while lamenting the lost opportunities for spontaneous in-match brawling. They are also said to be perplexed by the organisers’ unprecedented decision to give the Zimbabwe national team a bye into the semi-finals, and some within the game’s governing body are now calling for the tournament to be moved to Iraq where international partners have demonstrated a much greater commitment to lasting conflict and bloodshed.
But there is much at stake for the South Africans - not least a revival of their flagging stolen-and-counterfeit-ticket industry - and they remain committed to delivering a bloody, brutal tournament.
‘We pride ourselves on our murder rates,’ said the Sports Minister today, ‘and we realise the pressure will be on us to deliver. The eyes of the world will be on South Africa, and while they’re distracted by the football we will knock them out with a baseball bat and relieve them of their passports and travellers’ cheques. We promise it will be a World Cup the fans will never forget if they finally emerge from their comas.’