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Why the 2010 FIFA World Cup shall never be forgotten

June 20, 2010

Nelson Mandela, the inspiration behind the 2010 World Cup

Ever since the proud nation of South Africa was pencilled down to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, those sceptics amongst us laid down the gauntlet of doom for a country most famous for the era of apartheid between 1948 and 1994, which saw millions of non-white inhabitants of South Africa curtailed and minority rule by white people maintained. We questioned how a country of such social and economic struggle could possibly host football’s greatest tournament, let alone lay on a spectacle that everybody would want to be a part of. Of course, we underestimated the power of will, and we were ignorant to the passions and desires of the people who make up the beautiful country of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela’s presence as Africa’s most influential individual has provided people with hope, ambition, and pride, not only in terms of sport. ‘Freedom’ was not a word that appeared in the vocabulary of any South African inhabitant during the second half of the 20th century, yet thanks to the work of this incredible figure, the people of South Africa, and the people of Africa as a continent have rediscovered a renewed hope, and a fresh sense of freedom that has provided the backbone to the first ever African World Cup.

Upon visiting South Africa, one thing that you will instantly notice is the contrast between the rich and the poor. If you’re rich in South Africa, you can expect to have a very fulfilling and rewarding life. If you’re rich, you’re very rich. If you’re poor in South Africa, you’re poverty-stricken and any sense of quality of life is completely absent. Shanty Towns can be seen just over the back of many of the World Cup venues, including Cape Town Stadium and Soccer City in Johannesburg. Homeless people roam the streets with regularity and are typically ignored by the better-off locals with chilling normality. It is for this reason that so many of us doubted South Africa’s motives to launch themselves onto the world scene and put their own poverty-ridden country into the shop window for so many of us to see. Couldn’t the money go to a better cause? Why are so many people in desperate need being ignored by the authorities at the expense of building state-of-the-art sports facilities? To what cause will any profit made from the World Cup go towards? These are just some of the questions that have been asked, and if we’re brutally honest, will probably never be answered.

The World Cup took 80 years to reach Africa, and it those questions that also answer why. Africa hasn’t got the financial backup that a continent such as Europe has, although in modern times Europe’s economic progression is being halted at a dangerous velocity. Africa doesn’t have the stadia of an England, or a France, and the development of such facilities just adds more pressure and more money onto the host country’s production team. However, whilst we can spend all day and all night analysing and criticising Africa for what it does not possess, it is the qualities that it’s most southern country does contain that makes it stand out from the crowd.

A lot has been talked of the lack of spirit, desire, and commitment that the England team showed in their latest Group C encounter with Algeria. “The players didn’t want to be there”, “there was no passion, no flair”, and “they are not fit to wear the shirt” will sound extremely familiar to every England fan out in South Africa, and back at home. It has been suggested that it is not part of our culture’s dictum that we should be flamboyant and expressive in the way we go about playing our football, but at an African world cup you can’t help but think that spirit and character are the two things you need most of. There is no doubt that the likes of Ghana and South Africa have those qualities in abundance, and whilst they may not be the most gifted footballers on the globe, they’re attitude towards playing, and their love for their loyal supporters make them more special than any European, South American, or Asian team will ever be.

The word ‘vuvuzela’ has been used on so many occasions in the past few weeks that the customary ‘horn’ has gone out of business. Perhaps it has been overused, both in speech and in practice, but who could possibly complain about something that is so reminiscent, so representative, and so essential to the culture of the people of Africa, as well as inevitably being one of the memories of World Cup 2010?

It can be argued that the same love and joy that the World Cup has brought to Africa was evident in the 2002 tournament hosted by South Korea and Japan, yet I resent that notion entirely. There are distinct differences between East Asia and Africa, both in terms of culture and in social standing. Asia is rapidly becoming the world’s most powerful force, so much so that even the United States of America will potentially to be made to look like your typical sales representative, rather than the billionaire business tycoon it is made out to be today. Whilst the people of East Asia have a unique love and affection for football, it is only unique because it doesn’t come anywhere near to the feeling that the African people hold for Bafana Bafana and sport in their beautiful continent. You only have to look at what football has brought to the youth of Africa to see what a difference the World Cup has made, and will make in the long-term.

The World Cup may well be held in England in 8 years time, and it may well be a superb occasion for the whole world. However, one thing is for certain; No matter where, and no matter who, nowhere and no one will ever be able to match up to the unique and truly spectacular experience that South Africa and its people have provided for the rest of the world.

Check out my bl0g for all my articles: http://article2010.blogspot.com/

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2010 5:44 pm

    v.nice post, loved reading it, thank you for sharing.

  2. George permalink
    June 20, 2010 6:18 pm

    Thank you!

  3. June 21, 2010 12:29 am

    An excellent article, words such as these should always paint a picture the memory instantly recalls, the least an article ought to do is provoke thought, here the author does both admirably,
    Dig a wee bit too deeply though and the Peking Olympic games of 2008 spring to mind. There, the overriding imperative was to provide a spectacle for the watching world, with the both unseen preparation and aftermath studiously ignored. China, being China, is famous for cynicism and opportunism, with luck, South Africa will do neither well and take much better care of it’s citizens long after the television cameras have left for home.

  4. F.e.a.r permalink
    June 25, 2010 12:06 am

    All this multicultural festival of football is fake
    You get rich because you work, but those people dont want to work, and there will be scream of despair from every liberal from now to bring more blacks to the Europe because they live in poverty and etc. Truth is on the otherside, because as I said they chose to be poor cos they dont want to work, and never wanted and all this multicultural fake is same like Pekin Olympics just to appease communists and now to appease blacks, but football should never be connected with new world order and marksist ideology.

  5. George permalink
    June 25, 2010 12:50 pm

    What a very crude and incorrect view you have. The African people are actually some of the hardest working people on our planet. The majority of them have to work 20 hours a day just to be able to pay for one meal. They are poor because of the horrific socio-economic state of their country, and the rule of some of the most feared rulers the world has ever seen e.g. Robert Mugabe.

    To say the African people are not very hard working is so far wide of the mark it is untrue. I’m not sure whether you have prejudice against the African race or whether you’re just utterly ignorant to the world we live in, but I think you need to take a closer look at what’s going on in the world.

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