Saturday, May 14, 2011

South Africa FIFA 2010 World Cup Postscript

It has been almost a year and I am only getting ready now to bare my soul.

1.  I was wrong.  The event did take place in South Africa.

2.  My son was a McDonald's player escort at the Uruguay vs. South Korea match for which we already had tickets.  Because of the ridiculous call time, 0830, for a 1600 match, we had to overnight in Port Elizabeth, otherwise it was an all expenses paid day for parent and child.  Somewhere there's probably a good photo or video of son Gordon standing in front of an Korean player.  We lost the lottery :  no "money" shot of Gordon
 exchanging toothy smiles with Uruguay's Diego Forlan.

3.  My brother's first 3, maybe 4 matches attended were 0-0 draws.  Watching England was a major contributing factor.

4.  The City of Cape Town put on a good show.  Once the local Metro Police were banished from the immediate vicinity of the stadium, traffic flowed.  The vehicle search facility outside the stadium was worthy of
the former east German border protection police.

5.  I only saw 2 stadiums.  Cape Town's was an "E" ticket.  Fabulous.  Port Elizabeth's?  Worthy of demolition.  Both are now white elephants.

 6.  Very, very few overseas fans came.  5 came to stay with me and promptly switched to the Japan base
golf resort, Fancourt, running specials due to 30% occupancy.  We had no problem booking deep discounted rooms in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, even Bloemfontein on game nights.  We had a spare room in C.T. which I gave to my gardener and somehow he got a free primo match ticket from the ticket office.    We made a lot of Dutch and Uruguay fans happy as we gave away tickets to matches in Durban and Bloemfontein.  By and large, South Africans wanted to go to matches but not endure the traveling.

7.   The only price gouging on food I detected was at the Engen petrol stations on the major highways.  Suddenly, "Cool drinks", i.e. sodas were double their usual price.  Surprisingly, the prices at the concessions inside the stadiums were quite reasonable for a big event, so reasonable they consistently ran out.  Roving refreshments were far more miss than hit and reached their nadir in Port Elizabeth when the sellers began aggressively begging for tips.

8.  I doubt if any World Cup has ever had a greater SNAFU than the new Durban airport closing its runway to arriving commercial flights 5 hours before the start of a semi final match.  More than 1000 fans missed
the match.  This non-event was largely hushed up and goodness knows, how many other disasters were also.
Meanwhile, the South Africans continued to declare victory over the naysayers.

9.  We soon discovered that going to a match in Port Elizabeth, parking wise, was akin to going to a village fete.  Dead easy, just a short walk to the stadium.  If you followed the official directions, you ended up stranded as many were for half the night outside of Rustenburg after the USA vs England match.

10.  Apart from a handful of matches, the stadiums were not even half filled.  Reports of attendance were
concocted.  The cricket (South Asians) and rugby (the blanke) crowds were hugely supportive.  If the local blecks did not have a direct interest or free tickets, they were absent.  At least local TV coverage was
superb, though I kept the sound OFF.

11.  The SAPS, the national constabulary, saved FIFA's bacon in the Cape.  Superb policing, they replaced
thousands of the bottom of the barrel security workers at a few hours' notice.  Unfortunately they allowed themselves to be used as FIFA's pawns, arresting ticket touts for selling match day tickets at below face value.

But they redeemed themselves for busting Paris Hilton and her rent a celebrity crew for smoking dope in public.  And since when has the World Cup felt it necessary to use celebrities to promote the event?

12.  More bizarre was the Waka Waka business.  I was an early adopter of Shakira when I lived in Mexico in 1996-1997, but last time I checked she's not African.  So they made it a collaboration with pan African group, Freshlyground whose presence was to legitimise the undertaking, as though Freshlyground were not capable themselves of working with a songwriter/producer of John Hill's commercial instincts;   like magic, Freshlyground were no longer accomplished musicians but reduced to the level of feeble sex objects in the video (the only medium that counts, not the music but the visuals of Shakira gyrating).  I am not sure whose idea it was to contribute the huge copyright infringement ... if left unsettled, a court case might have revealed how little songwriting Shakira actually did on a song that she previously claimed as her own work.

So much for Freshlyground's exalted artistic principles.  And I like them!  

13,  South Africa now has 2 decent international airports, maybe a third in Durban.  Like most contemporary
world airports, their terminals resemble shopping malls but uniquely cater mostly to non international travelers and are accessible to the public.  Cape Town airport still does not have a public ground transportation link to anywhere.

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