World Cup 2010

World Cup Wrap from South Africa

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South Africa is a unique country that makes it so hard to define. After spending three weeks of World Cup?here I don’t know if I am any closer to understanding it but I am certainly less willing to judge.
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It is a spectacular country filled with diversity I have seen in no other. In Capetown I stayed 10 minutes from the dizzying trails of Table Mountain and Lions Head and the crashing waves of Camps Bay. My wake-up call each morning was the call to prayer from?the mosque next door while I lived in the unmistakeably gay, trendy neighbourhood of de Waterkant. It was in a classy part of town full of restaurants, cafes and character, but still only a warning away from an unsafe ghetto.
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Most of us visiting were rarely exposed?to the life the majority of South Africans live. More so the multitudes that experienced the country in such bubbles as the Waterfront in Capetown. This modernised wharf with it’s own flotilla of boats, bulging restaurants,?FanFest & street entertainment, only?minutes from Green Point Stadium, operated more as a?’Green Zone’, free of the normal distractions in life but devoid of personality.
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The World Cup organisation was close to faultless: transportation, security & stadiums. The enthusiasm of the locals was infectious and the welcome geniume. Unlike many past World?Cups South Africa?didn’t have the fortune of a complete infrastructure in place to build on: much?was done from scratch?and?I was pleasantly?impressed how smoothly everything went.
Black South Africans weren?t as?present at games as you would expect but it?were as much involved in the?Fan Festivals (such a great way to engage the masses). Most saw it as an opportunity to make a living.?Crime?never appeared an issue.?
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One comment that was regularly mentioned by travelling fans from other countries was the lack of passion at games. Part was due to the drowning noise of the vuvuzelas, but mainly because many fans at games were locals who ‘adopted’ countries to support, whites largely following their European heritage (many Germany, Holland, Portugal or England) while blacks their African roots. Although this added colour they weren’t able to contribute to singing (including national athems) or?understanding team strategies. Most of these fans were eagerly seen but generally not heard.
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Still they came, and as in any developing soccer nation this is the reason why Africa was chosen. Time will tell if this remains a truly multi-cultural sport here but it has made a big impact with the traditionally non-soccer communities in this country. This is the beauty of these World Cups: it is a numbers game where sponsors seek more and more consumers. But most importantly the success of World Cup 2010 is that it has galvanized this nation and has presented the country?as a legitimate player on the world economic and social stage. South Africans are beaming today.
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Any complaints of this competition are manageable and lie in the hands of?FIFA: the Jubilani ball, empty seats, use of vuvuzelas, and of course lack of technical support for referees which leads to the other problem of injury simulation by?players. The only logistics problem?I was aware of was flight disruptions to Durban on the game-day?for the semi-final when some fans on commercial flights were unable to land?when FIFA private jets blocked access to the terminal. I was already departing Durban after the game in the early hours by the time some of those irate fans landed. A shame for a such a beautiful new airport.
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Safari…
continued.

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