Wednesday, July 15, 2009

South Africa on the road to World Cup disaster

By Brian Glanville, Gulf News

South Africa: '2010 Will Draw Crime' - Cape Argus

Perhaps South Africa's World Cup administrators could console themselves with what happened in Chile before the World Cup finals of 1962.

Appalling earthquakes had devastated the long, narrow country, putting the tournament seemingly in danger. But the President of the Chilean Federation, Carlos Ditthorn, boldly proclaimed, "We must have the tournament because we have nothing!" And keep it they did, successfully, as I who was there can testify.

But South Africa, which by any kind of logic should never have got the World Cup at all, a fact foreign soccer correspondents over there for the recent Confederations Cup have seen for themselves, seems on the road to disaster.

In the first place, they now face an indefinite strike by 70,000 construction workers on the stadiums, who are demanding a 13 per cent increase. I imagine some sort of compromise will be worked out. It will have to be.

If only that was the end of it! Crime and communications seem insoluble problems, and where fine new stadia have indeed been built, they have sometimes been erected with a ludicrous lack of common sense. The dire prospect being that the lessons of Japan and South Korea in the 2002 World Cup, when splendid new stadia quickly became white elephants as soon as the competition was over, have been fatuously ignored.

In Durban, for example, a fine stadium, the ABSA, was scheduled to accommodate World Cup matches; but then the city decided inexplicably, even crazily, to build a new soccer stadium next door to it. By the same daft token, matches in Cape Town were due to be staged in the famous Newlands stadium, Not good enough! A brand new stadium has been built at Green Point in an affluent area of the city, but don't think you can get there on any kind of public transport from the airport. It doesn't exist.

And what price (a very large one you can imagine) the new soccer stadium in Durban, where the city council has tried in vain to persuade the Sharks Rugby team to move from the ASBA ground after the World Cup, will cost.

The new stadium designed with the possibility of the Olympics in mind is of no interest to the Sharks, with its spectators far from the pitch.

Then there is the question of crime. One which the organisers have cynically and evasively tried to shrug off. As one has feared all along there will be plenty of security for teams and officials and, up to a limited point, for journalists travelling the sometimes huge distances for matches, but what about the hapless fans?

As a highly experienced journalist put it, having covered every World Cup since 1966, "At none of these have I encountered such a steady flow of criminal incidents involving colleagues and business associates as in the two weeks of the Confederation Cup." One senior soccer writer was even mugged for cash by late-night traffic police.

A Spanish journalist from renowned Marca sent with $1,000 (Dh3,670) to buy tickets as a fan, was duly robbed.

A woman journalist had her bag snatched. What will happen to those tens of thousands of fans who, unlike the meagre number at the Confederations Cup, will invade South Africa next year? And where will many of them even sleep? There are not remotely enough hotels. There is talk of some fans being accommodated in nearby Zimbabwe! In Polokwane, despite the chilly South African winter, there are plans to camp 2,000 fans in school grounds. Please!

-The author is a soccer expert based in England

9 Opinion(s):

Viking said...

Another idiot journalist who thinks stadia is the plural of stadium. It's stadiums!
Stadia is the plural of stadion, or in Latin, stadium, which is a unit of measurement.
Rant over.

Vanilla Ice said...

Hey, I've got 5 star accommodation at the coast? Any foreign takers?

Vanilla Ice said...

A bigger issue will be crime post-world cup, when the quasi-cops have all left. I shudder to imagine an SA post 2010.

Exzanian said...

Yip, SA will truly be "alive with possibilities" come 2010.

Anonymous said...

I want to know where jobs are going to majically appear from after the WC2010 stadiums are completed? It's not like there's another big sporting event coming along for another few useless stadiums to be built for. Glad I'm not there anymore...

Anonymous said...

haha. was RSA not meant to be Zim by now under Zuma.

Anonymous said...

Viking - Go check out your facts and stop trying to be Mr Clever.The choice of Stadia or Stadiums is optional in the English.You completely ignore the content of Glanville's article and also the fact that he is a highly respected Football Journalist.

Viking said...

Yes I do ignore that fact. Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Lol at Exzanian... Alive with possibilities... "Eee so many people to rob so little time..." But personally i think if an English soccer fan gets mugged... they not gonna go down without a fight.. maybe we need foreign help to sort these prawns out.. cause obviously our president can't!!