Posts Tagged ‘world cup 2010’

Madiba’s birthday should be celebrated every day

July 19, 2012

Driving to work today my mind reflected back to 18 July 2010. I recall this date as the first time the concept of Madiba Day was sold to the citizens of South Africa as a day in which people should donate 67 minutes of their time or resources to helping a less fortunate fellow citizen.

We all got caught up in this force of generosity. One clear memory I have was noticing motorists giving ‘gift’ bundles (mostly winter warmers such as blankets) to the street beggars at the corner of Oxford Street and Glenhove road in Rosebank. Both motorist and beggar gave and received graciously and with smiles on their faces. On any other day of the year, especially at this rather large intersection, the motorist would be most bothered and react rudely to the beggars insistent invasion of the motorists personal space.

On 18 July 2010, all across the country, there was a genuine warmth, respect and gees (spirit) emitted by the citizens of South Africa towards each other. It was energising and empowering! I myself joined a group of friends in donating food to a homeless shelter in Johannesburg. The food would last probably a week, maybe a couple of days. But the longevity didn’t matter, it was the thought that counted. Our 67 minutes. And it felt great!

There was a twist though… Madiba Day of 2010 was celebrated exactly one week after the world cup 2010 soccer final in Johannesburg. National pride was at an all time high as the world came and the world saw, but it was OUR country who most definitely conquered. We conquered the initial perception by the world that South Africa would be incapable of hosting a crime-free first class event. And the nation, together as ONE, including the government and importantly the public services sector (read: law and order), the private sector and most importantly the people of South Africa, all rallied together to create probably the most memorable World Cup ever. Quite an achievement considering it is the world’s largest sporting event.

So it was easy to keep the spirit flowing of the World Cup into Madiba Day that year. We were ALL proud, we were all energetic, and most importantly we were all hopeful that the country had finally proved to the world, and more importantly, to itself, that it was most capable. We had turned a corner.

And then it all came to a screeching halt! Since those glorious few weeks, in which the problems we did face were challenged and contained, we have been bombarded, daily, with negative news and sentiment: The incessant fraud, corruption and maladministration from the highest levels in government right down to our local MEC’s. The constant back stabbing and infighting in the ANC, with ‘leaders’ more concerned in maintaining their status quo, rather than in ensuring that the children in Limpopo got their text books. The worrying increase in racial disharmony fuelled by populist and socialist politicians and aggravated by the tiresome recycling of the ‘race card’, the toll roads, the metro cops, the police brutality… Not a day goes by without some scandal making headlines.

There are multiple, and sometimes complex, contributing factors. However, I believe that one of the single biggest causes to the negativity is the seeming lack of respect and simple courtesy we have for each other and for due process. An general attitude of “I don’t care, I will do what I want”. Respect for your fellow countryman is what Nelson Mandela habitually preached. He was a man who led, and still continues to lead, by example. A man who lives by the principle of “Do what I do, not do what I say” (unlike current leaders, hey JZ?). And for one day of the year, on Madiba Day, we are ‘tricked’ into acting on Mandela’s principles of respect and harmony. The irony is, we actually want to do it. World Cup 2010 proved that. It showed us what we are capable of when every one of us pulls in the same direction. We will always have the social problems of a developing economy, but imagine if the billions stolen from the now bankrupt Limpopo was properly channelled as it was intended, it would go a long way to improving the lives of many.

Madiba Day provides us with a momentary glimpse of what South Africa could be like everyday if we wanted. Mandela said “One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others”. Madiba would want us to adopt this attitude every day, and not just on the 18th of July. We are certainly most capable of it, to give each other mutual respect. It is really not that hard to do and best of all respect and courtesy costs absolutely nothing.

And this is the greatest gift the children and grandchildren of South Africa can give to their greatest Tata: Let’s celebrate Madiba Day every day!

My 67 minutes are up… Mzansi Fo Sho!

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Bafana to Bokke… back to Soccer City!

August 23, 2010

A friend asked me earlier which was a better experience? Being at Soccer City for the opening game of the world cup between Bafana Bafana and Mexico, or going back to Soccer City for the first rugby match ever to be played at the stadium between the traditional rivals, the Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks?

A tough question to answer…

Firstly, I just can’t get used to calling it FNB stadium again. How could I? The old FNB stadium has gone through a complete metamorphosis. From the stark, somewhat foreboding, concrete caterpillar of the 80’s & 90s’s to the architectural marvel of the new millenium that has emerged from the cocoon to become the colourful calabash of Soccer City. For many millions around the world the first visual image they ever had of South Africa was when they first tuned in their TV’s to watch the opening game of World Cup 2010. I can only imagine what the Serbians, the Japanese, the Chileans must have thought of South Africa the moment our most modern coliseum filled their TV screens with the faces of thousands of yellow and green South Africans. Third world?? I think not! “Welcome to Soccer City!” is what the world will remember!

After many years of anxious waiting, and fretting like many others over our ability to pull it off, finally taking my seat at the World Cup opening game between Bafana and Mexico was a once in a lifetime experience. I vividly remember kitting up in my green supporters outfit, Makarapa & Vuvuzela et al, and heading out to the game on that typical sunny winter’s morning. I didn’t know what to expect. Did anyone? I remember the goosebumps I had the moment the UFO-like stadium first came into view as we came round the last bend of Nasrec Road. It was like those Umhlanga holidays I had as a young kid, driving for what seemed like eternity from the Joburg Highveld down to the Durban coast, and the rush of excitement I felt when my dad finally called out “kids, who can see the ocean?” and we would all screech out in delight as the vastness of the Indian Ocean rose up over the horizon.  The moment I stepped out the car and took in the massive expanse of the stadium that was about to swallow me up I think I started bouncing up and down like a little kid again. The events of that afternoon will live in South African folklore for time itself. Just being there, blowing my Vuvuzela as the teams walked out onto the field, to stand up and patriotically belt out our national anthem ‘Nkosi Sikelele’, and rejoicing Bafana’s  cracking first goal – the goal heard around the world – I have never felt prouder of being able to call myself South African. It was my moment, it was your moment, and it was bladdy well everyone’s moment! From Madiba to Zuma, from Francois Pienaar to Simphiwe Tshabalala, from the Boere in the platteland to the township kids playing in the streets of Soweto, from Pofadder to Mpumulanga, this was a moment when we could all call ourselves ‘Proudly South African’!

Now being back at the stadium this past Saturday to witness the two goliaths of world rugby, the old foes, do battle for the first time in the cauldron of the Calabash was also an outrageous experience. At the soccer I was a proud South African, yet, like many others in the stadium, the South African soccer culture was as foreign to me as the crazy Mexicans seated next to me. However, rugby is different. I am a Springbok rugby man by birth right. And like all fanatical fans I believe I could pick a better team than the coach (bring back Frans Steyn!) So being at this specific rugby match on Saturday was a call to arms, a battle cry – I just had to be there. I had to be there to witness the first time South Africa played rugby in one of the world’s most magnificent stadiums, I had to be there to be one of those 94,000 plus fans who made up the biggest crowd ever at a South African rugby game, I had to be there to drink cheap ice-cold Castle Lager beers (goodbye overpriced Budweisers!), I had to be there to pay respect to our Kaptein, John Smit, as he ran onto the field to a hero’s welcome for his 100th test, I had to be there to shout out “BOK-KE! BOK-KE!” in the most electrifying response ever witnessed to the All Blacks famous Haka chant

"BOK-KE! BOK-KE!"

, I had to be there to sing the Zulu/Xhosa parts of our national anthem which is becoming just as loud as the Afrikaans/English parts, I had to be there to boo the ref for his perceived bias against the Boks and apparent favour for the opposition captain Richie McCaw, and I most certainly had to be there to jubilantly celebrate as the might of the South African forwards bulldozed over to score the first ever try in what will surely be the first of many Springbok games at our new ‘national stadium’. And I don’t think anyone missed the Vuvuzelas (they were banned).

Sadly the Springboks lost! And like all Bok fans I despaired about why and how we lost the game. Without getting technical my main gripe is how could a team, which is mostly comprised of players from the two teams (Bulls & Stormers) who dominated all and sundry in this year’s Super 14, perform so badly in the Tri-nations? My buddy summed it up best “We simply got outcoached!!” Enough said.

The main differentiation between going to the opening game of the world cup soccer and the first rugby game ever at Soccer City is that we hoped Bafana would win, but in the rugby we expected the Springboks to win. The sport might have been different, however the stadium was the same, the atmosphere was just as stirring and the GEES and patriotism at the rugby was as immense as that opening game of the world cup. As the cliché goes, word just cannot describe it…

So what was the better experience? I can still sense that rush of excitement as the world cup kicked off, and my voice is still hoarse from screaming at the ref on Saturday. Perhaps the opening game of the soccer pips it… just… simply because it was a once off event, never to be repeated. No time is better than the first time, but the Springboks will be back at Soccer city.

Either way, I was truly fortunate to be at both games for such momentous occasions in South African sporting history.

And best of all it all happened right on my doorstep in the city of Gold… and Green: Johannesburg.

Jozi Fo Sho!

Betting on Liverpool to win the league

August 14, 2010

Whisper it quietly, but I reckon Liverpool is going to win the premier league…

I am feeling so optimistic about it, that I am contemplating whether to do something that I never had the inclination to do in my lifetime – bet on sport. I am surfing on the net, sipping a Jameson 12yr old, perusing the online betting sites for the best odds.

Betfred.com is offering 16-1 on Liverpool to win the whole dam thing. Hmmm…

I have obviously made the friendly wager here or there, and most Saturdays on the golf course the usual R40-R20-R20 is agreed upon on the first tee. But those winnings have to be expended at the 19th hole. Every now and again, the standard R100 bet on black when I happen upon a roulette table. I have never called up a bookie and wagered a bet. I wouldn’t even know how!

Probably the biggest punt I have made in my life was on a freezing winter’s night at a dodgy bar in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Due to the lack of action, and just for kicks, I bet a mate $50 to walk up to the only half-decent looking bird in the bar and whisper in her ear how her straight posture accentuates her… well… assets. Never thought he would do it. Easy money. Needless to say, within the allotted 10 minutes deadline he had, Braveheart marched straight up to the lass, glided through the group of relatively large chaps she was talking to, leaned over and whispered something in her ear. I felt that much more relieved at the initial look of shock on her face as my mate ostensibly repeated the agreed upon words. But then she laughed! I knew I had lost the best. Confirmed when my mate left the bar with her that night. Easiest money he ever made.

For my sins, I am a lifelong Liverpool fan. Over the last 20 title-less years, it hasn’t exactly been a wise investment decision to bet on football. More so after last season’s pitiful performance when the finished 7th.

So I must be absolutely insane to believe that they will end the 2010/11 season as Champions! However, my gut tells me something special, something completely unexpected is going to happen this season… And as my Liverpool buddies like to believe, when I “feel” something I am usually right.

Thats GEES right there my friend!

Why am I so bullish for Anfield glory? For as far back as I can remember, never have I been so entranced by the pre-season build up, my interest probably kick-started by my thirst for football post world cup. I have followed every news report, every transfer rumour, and I like to think that I am in a good position to assess the situation. At Liverpool, despite the ongoing boardroom shenanigans with regards to the ownership of the club (this should hopefully reach a resolution sooner rather than later) the current CEO, Purlow, has performed a sterling job. In hiring Roy Hodgson, they have brought a tactically astute and experienced manager, probably the best in the league last season, and who, importantly, knows how to say the right things to the media and players (Pieter De Villiers take notes). The speed in which he has turned last season’s pessimism into massive optimism for the new season, even with the most sceptical & loyalist Liverpool fans, and before a ball has even been kicked, speaks volumes for the way he is going to manage the club. His calming manner has convinced two of the best players in the league in Gerrard and Torres to commit to the club. Roy has also convinced the most sought after free agent of the summer, Joe Cole, to leave his beloved London to join the Red Army. The spine of the team has survived the turmoil – we were expecting a mass exodus – and includes established and experienced internationals such as Agger, Reina, Johnson, Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez, and more than matches any of the other top teams in the league.

You can see how up for the new campaign Liverpool’s most important player is. Stevie G’s midweek performance for England lit up a side struggling to shed the disappointed of a dismal world cup. I could see it in his eyes, the way he celebrated his two cracking goals showed that he is ready to fight for the cause this season, energy renewed. Except for probably Wayne Rooney, there is no more influential player in any team in the Premiership who would fight for the cause as much as Gerrard does.

Most importantly, the pressure and expectation for success is at the lowest levels in years for a club who demands so much. That makes Liverpool very dangerous.

To have Arsenal up first match this weekend is a blessing in disguise. Anfield will be a cauldron of atmosphere, and the players and Roy will be out to send an early message to the rest of the teams that will say “Liverpool are BACK!”

Obviously the success depends on the fitness of key players, but then again what is Man United without Rooney (his injury at the end of last season wrecked United’s season), Chelsea without Lampard, Terry, Drogba (admittedly still the strongest team in the league), and Arsenal without Fabregas and Van Persie. And with all of Mancini’s money he will have his hands full juggling a big squad and even bigger egos. Houdini Harry will be happy just getting Spurs to 4th again!

I called up my mate, Bazza, who is a lifelong Man United fan, and asked him which online betting site he recommended. I told him I wanted to bet on Liverpool winning the league. I was worried he might collapse from laughing so hard…

Not long after Bazza sent me a text which read “Payne Stewart has more chance of winning the PGA championship this weekend, than Liverpool has winning the title.

Payne Stewart passed away in 1999.

Eish!!

That’s the beauty of being a Liverpool fan – our eternal optimism. So I am not too worried, after all, there is always next season!

Regardless of who wins, if you are a true supporter of English football, this is the best time of the year. The opening weekend! 9 more months of non-stop football to go!

You will never walk alone… Liverpool Fo Sho!

Bafana BaGhana Basasta Disaster!

August 12, 2010

(AKA The lessons that were NOT learnt during the World Cup 2010…)

Its 8:40pm, and I should be at the game tonight.

Instead, I have just got home after an hour and a half joy ride trying to get to the game between Bafana Bafana and Ghana (BaGhana was sooo July ‘10), and now I have resorted to watching the game live on TV, match ticket in hand, as opposed to my unreserved seat at Soccer City, oops, I meant FNB stadium 🙂

This was supposed to be my much anticipated ‘Return of the Mlungus’ as my brother and I excitedly geared up for the match. It was like a scene out of Rambo as we laid out our battle outfits as we did countless times during WC2010: Makarapa – check, Vuvuzela – check, Bafana jersey – check, SA scarf – check, and the coup de grace, the green overall with “Mlungu 1” adorned in bright yellow on the back spotted numerous times at many world cup games. We were ready! A mocking parallel to those many freezing nights during WC2010 is that it was bitterly cold tonight. So we had to pack our Winter Warmer Emergency Bag including Beanie, Ski Gloves, and personally for me, knee high Ski Socks. After the recorded coldest night in the history of Joburg for the month of June, during the Brazil/North Korea game, we weren’t taking any chances!

We were up for it! Both of us were looking extremely forward to going to the game to support Bafana, to blow vuvuzela’s for our stars Mphela, Pienaar, Tshabalala, Khune et al and to play our part in carrying on the GEES generated by the World Cup!

Sadly, that is where it ended

Buying the match tickets on Computicket was the easy part. At R100 a piece to watch the clash of our nations favourites against our adopted & beloved quarterfinal cousins, it seemed fair value, compared to the R350 I paid to get a ticket to watch the off-form Springboks at the same battle ground next week. The only thing that raised an eyebrow was that the seats were unreserved? According to the SAFA spokesman, it seems many people haven’t been to Soccer City before so they will “struggle to find their seats”! (hmmm… I wonder how the Mexican, Brazilian and South Korean fans managed to find their seats during the WC2010?)

Getting to the game was potentially the deal breaker for making this gargantuan effort – note that the weather had no bearing on our decision to go. That said, based on the pleasurable experience of going to Soccer City no less than six (6!) times during the world cup, I assumed that the transport organisation would be if not as efficient as during the colonialists FIFA’s brief reign over South Africa, then at least up to a similar standard. In hindsight, as someone once said, assumptions are the mother of all…!

Being typically sceptical Joburgers we didn’t go into this one blindly. We double-checked of course, and after some nifty googling we stumbled onto the www.safa.net website, which conveniently emblazoned all over the home page travel arrangements for tonight’s match. The three options were: Train it; Rea Vaya bus it; or Park & Walk it (for the WC2010 uninformed that means DRIVE). The ‘specially arranged’ trains leaving from JHB Park Station were at 14:53pm, 15:36pm and 18:21pm. So for the working class that only left one feasible option: the 6pm train, also, who wanted to arrive 4.5 hours early?? Against making the 6pm train was fighting the notorious peak hour M1 South traffic to get to the stattion, and we couldn’t run the risk of missing the train. Thus Metrorail was ruled out. The fore-mentioned traffic hindrance didn’t seem all that appealing so Park & Walk was ruled out… although I did buy a ‘Shareworld’ Park & Walk ticket anyway as an emergency option (At R15 it was worth the safety net). The website clearly stated that Rea Vaya busses were leaving from “Con Hill” every “5 minutes between 5pm and 8pm”. As Con Hill was suitably located for us, with plenty street signs dotted along the way pointing us to the location, and also due to the great reviews this mode of transport had during the world cup, this was the option for us!

Con Hill here we come!!

But we came… and… left.

We arrived at Con Hill, and there was not a bus in sight! The security guard pointed us in the direction of the Civic Centre. But we weren’t taking our chances. If SAFA can’t get it right, what chance did the poor security guard have?

Cue the safety net Park & Walk ticket! Luckily for me, I learnt a secret route during the World Cup, via the western suburbs of Jhb snaking through the northern parts of Soweto, to get to Soccer City (if my mom only knew that her precious boykies were driving through Soweto at night!) If it wasn’t for the secret route we would have missed the WC2010 opening game due to the now infamous ‘Opening Match Gridlock’. As we embarked on my secret route through areas of Joburg my suburbanite brother had never seen before, we ducked under the highway and I noticed the peak hour traffic back up that we would now avoid. I quietly gave myself a pat on the back. The secret route worked again, and it took us next to no time to get to Nasrec Road…  But that was the beginning of the end.

There are only 2 ways to get to Shareworld – via Nasrec Road or via Main Reef Road. The route in from the other side was closed off by the cops (I know because we tried it!) During the World Cup we sat in traffic on Nasrec road, which moved along at snail’s pace but eventually we made it to the game on time. But that was with the advantage of arriving plenty time in advance and with a battalion of metro cops to marshal the traffic. Tonight the back-up down Nasrec road spanned the length of the entire road – that is a couple of kilometres – and not a metro cop in sight! Based on my world cup experience I knew that we were in for trouble, and there was no way in hell, with just over an hour to go before kick-off, that we would make it into the stadium on time, let alone find a parking in the chaos.

We had to make a call: sit in the car, tear our hair out and struggle to get to the game. Or call it.

Common sense prevailed – we called it!

I did suggest to my brother that we try finding an alternative route. But that was taking a chance it would be better elsewhere, further complicated that we did not know how to find any other way with no marshals to assist us. My secret route only knew one direction! As I did a u-turn to hit it back onto the highway, I felt guilty that we were wimping out of it. But my boet, wise beyond his years, consoled me with these words “It shouldn’t be this hard to get to the game”.

We came, we most certainly tried, and we sadly left.

All kitted out and nowhere to go!

So what does this all say about our post world cup abilities? For those who doubt my optimism and patriotism and think I am conveniently backing the naysayers, go read my other blog entries … I am the biggest Advocate for Mzansi! But this whole experience left a very bitter taste in my mouth, as I have read countless articles on how the Administrators of the game were going to take the lessons learnt from the world cup and move forward in a positive direction (and the leaders of our country on a more general basis). Yet, the first opportunity they had was blown. Badly. They spoke of how they wanted to attract more whitey’s (whose pale faces were plentiful at the world cup games) to support local soccer. But based on tonight’s experience, would I dare try it again? On tv the stadium was half full. I read an interesting article by the sports columnist Mark Gleeson in which he said that low attendances at local soccer games are caused by the “appalling experience” of going to a game, from the “transport, parking, seating, concession stands and general bonhomie in the crowd”. I cannot comment about the inside of the stadium, I never made it there, but from a transport point of view, the organisers definitely missed a trick. Even my mother commented to me, as I was despairing to her on the way home (moms give the best sympathy!), that how could it have messed it up SOOOO badly as there was a perfect transport infrastructure from the world cup!

And worst of all? I missed a perfect start to Pitso’s reign as Mphela scored a cracker for a 1 nil win!

We begrudgingly arrived home after the 1.5 hour ride around Joburg.

My brother got out my car, and all he could say was “Thanks for the ride…”

Mzansi Fo Sho!

* I have print-screened and saved the SAFA website transport details in case of any denials! Let the typical weak excuses begin. I am going to ask for my money back… watch this space!

Unused match ticket for sale!

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!

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!!


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