Archive for July, 2010

Winner and Losers of WC2010 Part 2

July 29, 2010

A friend of mine, who just got back from London, messaged me now and commented that Joburg “seems strangely quiet.”

Did the World Cup really happen??

When I started typing this blog on Sunday late afternoon, it was exactly two weeks ago since I was in ‘football’ heaven, excitedly weaving through the masses at Soccer City, match ticket and last Bud (thankfully!) in hand, for the greatest extravaganza South Africa has even seen… the World Cup Final between Spain and the Netherlands. This was the final act, the last stomach-twisting turn on the thrilling roller coaster which was Africa’s first world cup. And what a world cup it was!!

Against all the ‘supposed’ odds, as those naysayers prophesised, South Africa pulled off one of the greatest events in the long history of the World Cup. Why was it so great? In my opinion, the world didn’t know what to expect (if anything low/negative expectations), and such is the psychology of the mind, when one has no expectations it can only go up from there! Almost akin to a quiet night out with a planned early bedtime, which turns out into the biggest alcohol-induced bender of thrills, spills and crazy interactions in places you have never seen or been to before. The kind of night when you wake up, head throbbing the next morning, and with blood shot eyes  you smirk into the bathroom mirror and slowly whisper to yourself “what a night, what a great fucking night”. And I think that is exactly what every South African, foreign visitor and journalist thought on Monday the 12th July, the morning after the final:

what a night, what a great fucking night!!

Now almost two and half weeks later, I am sitting at my dining room table, which is only just large enough to play host to streams of paper and files of work which literally had to ‘take a hike’ during the month long festival of football. Whilst I sip my freshly brewed cup of Milo, a song by Arcade Fire plays in the background, somewhat aptly named ‘Antichrist Television Blues’ as the 24/7 football channel on Supersport is a fading memory, I am sensing how ‘strangely quiet’ Joburg seems.

So, a couple of weeks after the fact, after my initial Winners blog, it is a good time to ponder who were the losers of the World Cup? Hmmm, when I think about it, were there actually any real losers to this world cup?

Perhaps it was the superstars who were supposed to light the field alight with their world class skills, and their even bigger ego’s. Ronaldo, Rooney, Messi, Kaka are a few of the players who come to mind who arrived at this world cup and were punted to be its headline acts. As the building-wrapped billboards and seemingly Hollywood-directed TV commercials would make us believe. But that didn’t happen (Did Ronaldo even play??) But are they losers? I think not! They are all home now, earning their fat salaries, being pampered by their supermodel wives or girlfriends and jetting off to practice in whatever supercar there $150,000 a week salaries have bought them this week. So they didn’t exactly get a winners medal draped around their neck. No sir! These guys are Winners!

Perhaps it was football itself who was the real loser? Seeing game after game of players diving around the field in a manner that would make Olympic high divers proud, or the acting of the players feigning injuries with such masterclass and passion that I heard they were going to bring Simon Cowell in as a studio guest to rate these ‘performances’. Or, and this is what I hated the most, the players surrounding the referee in manner akin to assault whenever a  decision went against their team. FIFA promoted the ‘Say No To Racism’ campaign before certain games, a noble effort, but what moral message was all this ‘simulating’ sending out to the kids, the clichéd leaders of tomorrow? Dive, roll, or swear your way to get ahead? Certainly didn’t do much for promoting the beautiful game! But is football the loser? I think not! It’s just 2 weeks till the kick off of the English Premier League and I couldn’t be more excited! The world is addicted to football (ok, maybe not the Yanks, but they can have their baseball!) and come World Cup 2014 in Brazil, Mr Blatter is going to rake in another $2billion, hopefully including a few bob for my match tickets!

Perhaps the figurative losers were Netherlands for doing their best imitation of Bakkies Botha by trying to thump the Spanish off the field during the final after playing so attractively in every other game? Perhaps the losers were the people, on those Durban-bound flights, who missed the semifinals? Perhaps the losers were some traders or hospitality vendors who lost money as the business didn’t come their way? Perhaps it will even be South Africa itself, who might not take the lessons it learnt to heart and build on this fantastic momentum?

When I really think about it there were no real losers of this world cup. There was no troubling breaking news, there was no massive crime wave, nor tourists left stranded without accommodation or transport. Perhaps an isolated story here or there. This isn’t Utopia afterall. The Dutch will always be regarded as purveyors of entertaining football, those unlucky travellers stranded in Durban will hopefully remember the rest of their magical trip, there were plenty vendors who did great business, and South Africa was the most popular phrase in the world for 4 long weeks (followed closely by “vuvuzela”)  – where else can the Ministry of Tourism get great coverage like that!

Ultimately, the unlucky losers are us poor sods, who two weeks after the World Cup, have been dragged back into a normal sense of reality. Gone are the throngs of previously unheard of foreign accents clogging the restaurants and bars; the jovial acceptance of the daily nuances that bothered us so before; and the adrenaline rush caused by the anticipation by the next game to go to or watch. This place was pumping!! Back is the impatient Joburg attitude; the daily cursing at the taxi’s weaving illegally through the peak hour traffic; and the nervous anticipation of what Julius Dilemma is going to spurt out next… Xenophobia anyone?

Zapiro, The Times, 14 July 2010

When I started this blog I was sitting on a couch at the impressive Hyde Park Hotel Bar, daydreaming out the window and wandering to myself “Did the World Cup really happen??”  The setting sun caught my eyes, forcing me to squint. As I refocused onto the purple hue of dusk, I couldn’t help but admire the beauty of Joburg encapsulated by the glory of an African sunset, one of the city’s most endearing and loved characteristics.

Woza! Tomorrow is a new day and, with or without the World Cup, a new adventure awaits. Afterall, this is Joburg… a place where anything but the expected happens…

Mzansi Fo Sho!

Advertisements

World Cup, now British Open: Bravo South Africa!

July 19, 2010

Being the avid golf fan, who committed many hours in front of the tv this past weekend absorbing the victory of King Louis Ooosterhuizen, I trawled the internet for news articles best describing his victory. This article stood out for me, as it brilliantly captures and describes not only Louis’s victory but also the past month in SA. Its a must read! Enjoy!

“World Cup, now British Open: Bravo South Africa!”

Trapped inside the hard, forbidding walls of his jail cell, with barely enough space to move, did Nelson Mandela the prisoner ever dream that things would turn out quite this well?

Surely, even the world’s most inspirational and famous optimist must be thrilled and perhaps a little surprised — who isn’t? — that South Africa is proving to be such a shining ambassador for itself.

Talk about a country having a banner sporting year. First, hosting a football World Cup that radiated warmth and joy. Then, giving golf a new champion with an alphabet-soup name who came out of nowhere to win the British Open.

How deliciously intriguing that a player nurtured under the African sun proved best able to handle Scotland’s howling gales.

Do, however, spare a thought for the engraver who had to carve “Louis Oosthuizen” onto the base of that celebrated silver trophy. Takes up more space than Tiger Woods. And yet, in four short days that transformed him from “who?” to the name on everyone’s lips, Oosthuizen ensured that the entire golfing world now knows that his tongue-tripping jumble of vowels and consonants is pronounced WUHST’-hy-zen.

Can there be better karma than a South African lifting the claret jug on the day Mandela turned 92?

Clearly, Oosthuizen thought not.

“Felt a little bit special, really. When I walked down 18, I was thinking about his birthday,” he said.

The 27-year-old was just a young boy when the anti-apartheid leader was freed in 1990, after spending 27 years in prison.

“What he’s done for our country is unbelievable, and happy birthday to him,” Oosthuizen said.

The power of sport to put a nation on the map and to unite and inspire its people is not new. Mandela saw it. In fact, he practically willed South Africa’s Springbok rugby team to victory at the 1995 World Cup that his nation hosted. Mandela’s utter delight when South Africa lifted the trophy — he shook his arms in the air with the enthusiasm of a young boy — was infectious, an uplifting moment for a country mired in post-apartheid fears, uncertainty and hardships.

South Africa then topped that this year with what many visitors will remember as a football World Cup that was exciting, exotic and a huge success, even if it — grrrrr — also introduced the world to those infuriating vuvuzela horns. Perhaps infected is a better word — they’re now being heard at the Tour de France.

Of course, South Africans were crushed that their team, the Bafana Bafana, was knocked out after three matches, the worst ever showing by a host nation. But that didn’t really seem to matter compared to the PR triumph the nation reaped from being so welcoming and capable.

Since Spain beat the Netherlands in the July 11 final, we’ve not heard a squeak from the doomsayers who had predicted that holding the tournament in South Africa would be a disaster; that stadiums wouldn’t be finished, that lax security would allow terrorists to waltz in, that tourists would be robbed, raped and murdered by the busload. There were a few logistical glitches but nothing to really spoil the mood. World football had its first, and long overdue, African party — proving that it can be done.

And now, just to make sure that everyone gets the great-place-to-be message, here comes Oosthuizen, gushing about how South Africa is a fabulous home for a golfer. During the apartheid years, the sound of Afrikaans-accented English was like a stain on a person, marking them as coming from what then seemed to be a despicable country because it treated blacks as inferior humans and had Mandela locked away on Robben Island. Now, spoken by the likes of Oosthuizen, that same sound seems liltingly pleasant to the ear. It no longer carries shame.

“The weather in South Africa is brilliant,” he said. “Wintertime you can still play some days in shorts there.”

Quick, when’s the next plane?

No one, of course, is naive enough to think that sport can gloss over South Africa’s frighteningly large array of complex and difficult problems. It is a promised land of much misery. No number of new World Cup stadiums, for instance, can hide such a shockingly large gulf between rich and poor.

Nevertheless, the last few weeks have been remarkable — so much so that 2010 could perhaps mark a watershed in world perceptions of South Africa and its people. The rainbow nation. That colorful and positive name that South Africans give themselves makes so much sense now.

John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org

And the good time GEES just keeps on rolling…!

July 18, 2010

I enjoy writing. I really do. And one thing that is apparent to me is that every writer – from occasional blogger like myself to seasoned author – needs some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing. If its inspiration you are looking for, best you quickly head down to South Africa, because inspiration is being given away by the bucket load at the moment.  Just take today for example…

In celebration of Nelson Mandela’s (92nd ) birthday, the 18th of July has been designated ‘Mandela Day’, an annual celebration of Madiba’s life and a global call to action for people to recognize their individual ability to make an imprint and change the world around them. The Mandela Day campaign message is simple: “Nelson Mandela has given 67 years of his life (since 1942) fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.”

Today, all around South Africa, Mandela Day was in full swing, as countless Mzansi citizens, from the platteland to the urban jungles, gave up some of their time to help make a difference. The momentum of the patriotic GEES (pride) generated from the world cup just keeps on flowing… I haven’t seen this much goodwill in SA since the Red Nose Days of yesteryear (remember that!)  So this morning I joined a group of guys at Immaculata Hall, a homeless shelter in Rosebank. Brilliantly organised by my mate Squeaky, contributions were made for purchasing much needed meat for the shelter and a small group of us went to the shelter to give our 67 minutes. It was a heart-warming experience as Jacob Modise, the manager, welcomed us all with open arms, gave us a tour of the facilities and even shared humorous anecdotes of the history and the day-to-day activities of the shelter (they even have a computer centre to teach computer literacy).

Walking into the shelter this morning I didn’t know what to expect in terms of acceptance and interaction, but I don’t believe it was an eye-opening experience for me. Having lived in Joburg for the better part of my life, I am very cognisant of the harsh realities many people face in South Africa on a daily basis. If anything, the street beggars, a hallmark of Joburg life, are a daily reminder of this fact: An ex-South African mate of mine was driving with me the other day and commented on the numerous beggars we encountered at almost every intersection. He asked me how I was able to seemingly ignore each beggar ambling past my window every time we stopped at a traffic light. I said to him that I don’t ignore them; it’s just that we are most likely desensitized by this near daily routine.  If you live in Joburg you will know what I mean. Sadly in South Africa there are millions of people who need assistance, not only the beggars in the streets. There are probably too many people for us as individuals to reach out to. But I believe, and as I preached to my friend in the car that day and something that I strive to practice, we don’t always have the ability as individuals to assist every single person we encounter daily, but if we focus our resources on helping maybe just one person, or even a few, and effecting a positive change in their lives, be it for a moment or for forever, than that is playing a significant part in helping South Africa. Someone might question the shallowness of seeing people suddenly give ‘only’ 67 minutes of time to help another today or to spend some time at charitable organisations, but you know what? Those 67 minutes, (and the donated meat!), might just have positively impacted on someone’s life. And even if it was seemingly just for a moment, the goodwill that it imparted might just have given them a little bit more spirit to keep on fighting the good fight, and that much more HOPE. If anything, the wonderful experience of goodwill today might just encourage us to make a little bit more effort in ‘giving’. And I think that is the main hope and idea behind behind Mandela Day… Madiba is a wise old man after all! 🙂

Zapiro Sunday Times 18 July 2010

The cherry on the top of a fantastic day, and to divert a little, was watching Louis Oosthuizen, or the endearing “Oosthoozen” to the Afrikaans-challenged overseas golf commentators,  absolutely destroy the best field in golf today to capture the most coveted trophy in golf: The Open Championship aka the British Open. Little Louis, a 200-1 rank outsider at the start, and whose slight frame belies his ability to pound the ball further than most, won his first ‘major’ at the Old Course of St Andrews, the literal home of golf for those less golf astute. I laughed as the colourful French commentator Jean van der Velde exacerbated “I am struggling to pronounce Louis correctly, never mind his first two names!!” (Ludowicus Theodorus “Louis” Oosthuizen).  Being a golf nut myself, I joined some mates about a year ago to go ‘hack’ my way around the hallowed links of the Old Course, and I sat glued to the TV this weekend with my course play book I got that awesome day tracking each and every hole. For me, when a South African is in contention in a big golf tournament, it’s as exciting to watch as a Springbok rugby game. Luckily with the talent we have in this country, these moments occur quite regularly. Watching Louis and his caddy, Zack Rasego (black caddies are a very rare sight in world golf), proudly marching down the final fairway, graciously receiving the deserved applause from the massive galleries I (somehow!) found myself cracking open the bottle of Edradour whisky which I bought at the distillery the day after I played St Andrews, and whose opening I saved for a special moment. Never mind the Bells advert, this was an EXTRA special moment and never has a single malt tasted so fine!

The first thing Louis, a humble, well-mannered man of few words, so typical of South African golfers on the tour, said as he gave his victory speech was to wish Nelson Mandela happy birthday. Well done boy! As the commentators were throwing out every superlative about Louis, Ernie Els, Gary Player and the best of what South Africa offers to the golfing world (for such a small country in the scheme of things we definitely punch above our weight) and as they also acknowledged the recent positive imprint South Africa has had on the world recently, I found myself toasting under my breath to King Louis, Madiba, Mandela Day and to the events of this past month, as it was bladdy lekker to be Proudly South African… “Mzansi Fo Sho!”

Louis & Zack Rasego walking down the final fairway

Another great 'South African' moment!

World Cup Winners and Losers… Part 1

July 13, 2010

Wow! Did the World Cup hangover hit me big time yesterday…  I’m still in a dwaal! My sports tour is officially over, and when people ask me what am I going to do, I despondently reply“the menial things in life like go to work, do some gym…” Back to reality!

Going to the final on Sunday was unreal, and I think the magnitude of the event has still not registered properly in my mind. I went to a soccer world cup final – probably the single biggest event in the world – what one-off event could possibly be bigger??

Much has been said & written in the news around the world about the success of the World Cup and what it has done for South Africa and for the unity of the country, none better described than by my mate Squeaky, whose creative headgear on Sunday was only bettered by the outrageous attempt by some whack job to plant a woollen hat on the world cup trophy!

From a soccer sense this was a world cup of unexpected results. This was the first final without one of Brazil, Germany, Argentina, or Italy! Spain were the best team, rightly so, as every time they stepped on the field they endeavoured to show the world why soccer is called the ‘beautiful game’. In a world cup surprisingly devoid of the expected superstars such as Ronaldo and Rooney, Uruguay’s Diego Forlan rose to the occasion and was rightly awarded the player of the tournament with some sumptuous goals and creative brilliance.  And bet you didn’t realise that the only unbeaten team of the whole comp was the minnows of football: New Zealand’s ‘All Whites’. How ‘bout them apples!

I am sure that in the weeks ahead much more will be written and debated about the successes and (limited) failures of South Africa 2010. Not much more to add here. When I lay in bed on Sunday trying to get over the excitement of the day, I thought about the best and worst of WC2010. I’m sure everyone has their favourite moments. Here is my take on the winners of the WC2010:

Madiba Magic – Just after the last performers ran off after the closing ceremony, I said to my mate how awesome would it be for Mandela to make a surprise appearance,  and right then and there, he rolled out on his golf cart, Colgate smile and all! The stadium erupted for South Africa’s most favourite ubabamkhulu (grandfather)!! Even though he was a fair distance away I could almost sense his magnetic and empowering aura. This man has done it all for South Africa, and then some! If it wasn’t for the Madiba Magic, we would all have been watching this WC2010 on our tv’s… Happy Bday Madiba for July 18!

The Organisers –  give massive credit where its due. They put together a monumental effort! Amongst other things I reckoned that transport would be the hindrance to a successful world cup. Especially in Joburg. However, barring some initial teething problems especially during the opening game, there were almost minimal complaints in the press thereafter as the organisers rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in ensuring fans got to/from the games and around the cities hassle free. I took a spin on the Gautrain and even caught a train from Park Station for the first time in 15 years! Very impressed indeed. Big ups to Comrade Danny Jordaan and his LOC!

The Police. Dinkum! In recent times SAPS & their ugly cousins, the Metro cops, have been rightly vilified for their lazy attitude, corrupt activities and general lack of performance. With the tag of crime capital of the world preceding WC2010, the police had a job to do to shed this deserved image, and what a job they did! WC2010 came and went almost incident free and with NO major problems or crises.  Thieves were tracked down, arrested and charged at a speed usually reserved for orders at the local Chicken Licken.  Nothing inspires a person to do his job like a bit of self-pride and respect. Hopefully, all these plaudits will give each and every policeman the motivation they need to carry on doing a great job. This is one legacy of the World Cup that really needs to carry on, we were ALL made to feel safe, and now the Bokgata have no excuses as they have proved it CAN BE DONE!

Madam & Eve, The Star, 13 July 2010

Paul the psychic octopus – Batting at 8 for 8 and getting every single prediction right was no fluke, Paul became the unwitting star of the WC2010. Winners love him, losing teams hate him, men want to be him, woman want to eat him! The Germans are backing his soon to be released auto-biography, and the current most popular dish in Holland is calamari & cheese with a free Heini!  He is going into retirement now, however, I reckon the bookies kidnapped him!

The Stadiums – Admit it, when you walked into Soccer City for the first time your first word was “JISLAAK”. How many (larger) countries in this world can boast the quality and beauty of the stadia South Africa built for WC2010? They were a tourist must see within themselves! From the Calabash design of Soccer City, to the arch-wrapped Mose Mabhida in Durban to the breathtaking backdrop of Cape Town Stadium, we are truly blessed with world-class facilities. Like the rest of us I am also concerned about the post-world cup white elephant phenomena, but the most positive aspect of the stadiums is the symbol of pride its gives the people of each region. A price cannot be put on that! Rugby should fill the void of the bigger centres  – Springboks/All Blacks Soccer City 21 August see you there! – and hopefully the other stadiums will be put to good use. If anything, I am sure we will be put on standby if the Aussies cannot pull it off come 2022 😉

Super Mario! My colleague was at the Durban semi’s and this is how he described it “there was this guy sitting on a wheelchair just in front of us. Next thing he rose up from his chair! It was a miracle!! He hopped the barriers and sprinted onto the field!! Unbelievable!” As far as light-hearted moments go, Italian Mario Ferri’s single handed crusade protesting that his favourite player was not picked was probably the best of ‘em, and it only cost him a R3,000 fine! (imagine 20,000 Bok fans running on the field in protest of PDivvy leaving out Francois Steyn!). The Bliksem of the tournament goes to the security fella who stiff-armed the introoda – in South Africa we don’t have streeka’s – who tried to touch the trophy before Sunday’s kickoff. Bakkies Botha would have been proud of this ‘sleight of hand’.

Hit first, ask questions later!

Vuvuzelas – Mrs Balls Chutney, Kreepy Krawly and now the Vuvuzela becoming an iconic SA export! Love it or hate it, the Vuvu became the symbol of the world cup. Debate raged on, and watching ESPN earlier it still goes on, whether it should have been banned or not. Personally, as I have gone to local soccer games and thus have witnessed the vibrant songs of the local fans , I think the stadiums would have been awkwardly silent as the majority of these locals sadly couldn’t afford or didn’t have access to match tickets. The Vuvu ensured a noisy, festive atmosphere at all games, and anyone who has blown one knows how much fun it is! Per the linguistic organisation Today Translations: “Thanks to the World Cup, the vuvuzela has the entered the shared language of the world and joined the ranks of words that need no translation.” Now thats Ayoba!!

Zapiro

The street vendors – to me the roads of Joburg seemed less colourful today as the swarms of street vendors have probably divvied up their hard-earned winnings and have taken off to Mauritius for a well deserved rest. The speed that these guys sourced the regalia of the flavour-of-the-day team was astounding. One day it was English scarves, then Brazilian and then finally just Spanish and Dutch (I never did see North Korea though, did anyone??) Each item was a commodity with a suggested ‘retail price’ – 100 bucks for a scarf, R60 for a beanie – and you work your way down from there… Finally these guys had something to sell that everyone wanted! Forget the cellphone adapters and plastic hangers.  Another legacy which needs to remain is all the cars adorned with rainbow adorned side mirrors and mini flags. It was pretty awesome seeing all this GEES whilst trawling through the painful Jozi traffic!

And finally…

South Africa and its people! I read in The Star paper earlier: “This wasn’t about Spain 1 Holland 0 it was simply SA won”! Hands down the biggest winners of this world cup were all of us South Africans whose infectious enthusiasm outshone the soccer spectacle. I have never been to any other World Cups, but who am I to argue when nearly every single one of the foreign experts and journalists claim this to have been the most festive, fun and friendliest World Cup ever!! The renowned Mzansi warmth and hospitality reverberated through every single foreign visitor to our shores, who are surely going to take the message of goodwill home with them. Organisers were worried that the early departure of Bafana would dent the interest of the country, but the opposite happened, partly due to our national pride and partly because we are a sports mad country we simply just picked another favourite team to support! And the rallying behind Ghana, which I witnessed at the game at Soccer City, was stuff of legend. I am truly proud, as I have always been, but DEFINITELY more so today, to call myself ‘Proudly South African’!

Mzansi Fo Sho!

And the winner of WC2010 is…

July 8, 2010

So Paul the psychic octopus is batting 6 for 6 by correctly predicting Spain’s fantastic victory over the Germans last night. Paul’s impressive skills didn’t sit well with the Argies after they got thumped by the Germans in the quarterfinals. And now it seems that, after being the pearl of adoring German fans eyes, Paul’s popularity has taken a turn for the worse in his homeland and his once adoring fans are now suggesting Paul should be fried, barbecued or turned into a seafood salad or paella. Schweinhund!! Calamari anyone??

The oddly quiet Julius Dilemma (even he has to comply with the rules of the Republic of Fifa) has been very impressed by Paul’s abilities and Paul is to be headhunted for the position of Chief Political Aide to Malema. Hayibo might be satirical, but not many people would be surprised! Eiiishhh!

If you are a Back to the Future fan, you probably received and forwarded the emails doing the rounds that the 6th of July 2010 was ‘Back to the Future’ day, the date Marty McFly and Doctor Emmett Brown visit in their time-travelling DeLorean. However, the whole thing is apparently a hoax, (hope you didn’t plan any big BttF parties!), and the real future date per the movie is actually 21 October 2015. Great Scott! Some people have way too much time on their hands – like this blogger – but the positive news is that this gives us 5 more years to invent the hover-board!! Radness!

Talking of Paul the psychic and of predicting the future, one man who has stuck his neck out on the line and HAS predicted the winner of the WC2010 is Ilan Smith, the Illusionist (note: not Magician). Ilan, a mate of mine, was recently heard on the big 3 of mlungu radio 94.7 Highveld Stereo, Radio 702 and 5Fm, <click on the links to hear the broadcasts> predicting the 2 finalists (before the quarters were played!), and the winning score of the final match. The fact that the radio stations aired his predictions live on radio is impressive enough, but if he is right than even Paul the Octopus and Doc Brown has to bow down to the king of the future. Ilan hasn’t been making international waves yet like the mollusk, but he is seriously talented so catch him live on the radio monday morning after the final to see if his predictions were correct. If so, then Ilan better watch out for Julius! Eiiissshhh!!

Pity Ilan wont tell me his predictions, because at 11/10 Spain look a good bet to be first time winners…

Espana Fo Sho!!

PS: JUST IN: Paul the psychic octopus has predicted Spain will win the final

Don’t blame Uruguay!!

July 6, 2010

I am sitting on the plane to Cape Town en route to watch my 11th (gotta milk it!) game of this World Cup – the semis between Holland and Uruguay. Prior to opening my laptop to type this blog, I forced myself through a tasteless cup of airline coffee (I am a self-professed coffee snob) whilst trawling through the morning papers. One article in The Times particularly caught my eye, titled “Fifa gets soft with Suarez”, in which I learned that Fifa has given a light sentence to Luis Suarez (the Uruguayan striker sent off for the last minute handball against Ghana), and only banning him for 1 game for his red card indiscretion. Fifa decided not to extend this automatic one game ban further. The article further stated that “instead of paying the price for his cynical play…Suarez has been hailed as “heroic” in his South American homeland”.

South Africans hate the Uruguayan’s….

I use the word ‘hate’ in context with the many conversations I have had with friends and colleagues the last few days: on the dejected train ride home from Soccer City after the game, on the fairways of the golf course the next morning with knowledgeable fanatics, and the surprisingly many conversations with the ‘new’ football experts the world cup has created in the last 3 weeks – most of them female, and most of them knowing only 2 footballers prior to the WC2010… Beckham and Ronaldo! (Let that be the lasting legacy of this World Cup, female football fans who will NOW appreciate their men spending countless hours on the couch on a Saturday afternoon watching 3 football matches in a row! Long may it last!!)

All these conversations had one thing in common – the utter derision for the Uruguayan football team who’s “cheating” knocked out our adopted and beloved Ghana out  of the World Cup. Add that to the 3-0 thumping Uruguay (rightly) gave Bafana in the group stages and you can begin to understand why ‘we’ hate Uruguay.

But you know what, given the same scenario in reverse – a last minute free kick to defend – any other team would probably would have done the exact same thing as Uruguay i.e. placing 2 defenders on the goal line to save the ball from the crossing the line. And by save, I mean using whatever appendages necessary, including hands. If you look closely, Uruguay had 2 guys on the line, and both of them had their hands in the air to catch any ball that came their way. They knew EXACTLY what they were doing. Suarez just happened to be the lucky/unlucky player.

This world cup has cemented the fears of many football purists: that the cost of losing is a much HIGHER price to pay than maintaining the spirit of the game, and playing with a high moral standing i.e. all that SPORT is supposed to stand for. For me personally it is taking away the enjoyment of the game … and makes me appreciate rugby and, ironically, the gentleman way it is played that much more (BOKKE!!)

There is only one outfit to blame for this lack of immorality and cheating that has riddled the game, sadly illustrated waaaay too much during this current world cup – not Suarez, not Uruguay, or the many other footballers playing for the dive or goading the ref to red card the opposition. Blame FIFA. They have created this environment, and refused to do anything about it over the last few years. Look at their treatment of Suarez for example – instead of using an opportunity to make an example of this massive flaw in the rules of the game, they have rewarded him and his team by allowing him to be available for the final if Uruguay make it (and he is a key player). An example has been set by FIFA, and footballers the world over – from the best professionals in the best leagues in the world, to, unfortunately, the school kids playing for their junior teams – have taken note and will imitate and do the exact same thing as Suarez did for Uruguay.

In my opinion, an even worse incident was the German goalkeeper against England for not acknowledging the goal that crossed the line. The keeper stated after the game that he continued playing as if nothing had happened in order to deceive the referee. It worked. If the goal stood the whole dynamic of the game could have changed in favour of England, rather than Germany powering on to thump the English. FIFA should have banned the German keeper for the rest of the World Cup based on his admissions.

However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for the world’s most popular game. FIFA has finally recognized the need for video technology, and hopefully the distasteful actions by the many ‘respected’ ambassadors of the game during the crowning glory of Fifa football, the World Cup, will finally push FIFA to use it. I think post-match citing for cheating should be introduced as well, ala rugby, to discipline players who get tackled yet roll around on the ground as if they had just been right-hooked by Mike Tyson just to get the opposing player sent off.

So… everyone said Suarez was cheating. He wasn’t. He was just bending the laws created by FIFA to give his team the best advantage possible. Yes it was immoral, yes it was hurtful for the supporters of Ghana, but objective achieved and Uruguay marched on to the semi-finals. As I said, given the reverse scenario, Ghana would have done the same thing. And what would have happened then? I will tell you: the 80,000 odd supporters of Ghana in Soccer City that night (including me), and the thousands around the world, would have rejoiced at the Ghana player who would have saved that goal and treated him as a hero!

And what would have that said about us??

Plain landing soon, football to watch!

Netherlands fo sho!!

SHOCK & HORROR A TOURIST HAS BEEN SHOT….. in alex

July 1, 2010

I have just been reading the ‘headline-grabbing’ news of the American tourist who was shot in “Sandton” as he disembarked from the Gautrain. Its seemingly all over the internet news, I read it on CNN.com, and I’m sure by now this tragic news is spreading globally.  Its just what the ‘naysayers’ were waiting for. According to the Associated Press, “The victim, identified as David James Bueche, was assaulted by four men as he was looking for his accommodation in Johannesburg’s affluent Sandton area late Wednesday”.

The real story is this American tourist, disembarked at Marlboro Gautrain station, not Sandton, and walked at night, AT NIGHT, along the outskirts of Alexandra township to his backpacker lodgings. “Affluent Sandton area” I think not!

Sadly, even the South African press got it wrong – for some reason M&G wont publish my comment! haha But at least another reader corrected the M&G.

The tourist should have researched better. Especially as he is from LA, a city teeming with dangerous n’hoods. If I was visiting LA, I wouldn’t exactly get off the bus, suitcase et al, in South-central LA and ask for directions to the nearest hotel.  That’s a satirical scene best left for National Lampoons vacation…

American Tourists ek se! 🙂

For something more uplifting check out this video on youtube

Now thats Mzansi Fo Sho!


%d bloggers like this: