Ready or Not
June 3, 2007 5:09 AM   Subscribe

Ready or Not. "South Africa is a great place to have a party, and people are incredibly generous of spirit. What we should be doing is trying to make the World Cup experience uniquely African: where the bus comes 10 minutes late but nobody gives a toss because they are having such a good time. Instead, the organisers seem to want to try to run the World Cup as efficiently as the Germans did. What a load of bull. The Germans could invade Poland in three days. We could not invade Swaziland in three months." Article in today's Observer about preparations in South Africa for the soccer World Cup in 2010.
posted by hydatius (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Germany and the United States have been mooted as possible alternative hosts, as has Australia - which, for many, is the ultimate insult since Australia has become a haven for whites dissatisfied with life in the 'new South Africa'.

Everyone said the Greeks would never be ready to host their Olympics, but they more or less pulled it off. No one expected German efficiency in Athens. No one should expect it in Johannesburg.
posted by three blind mice at 5:54 AM on June 3, 2007

"The Germans could invade Poland in three days"

is it a preemptive Godwin?
posted by cardoso at 6:09 AM on June 3, 2007

The 2012 Olympics in London look like they are heading to be the most over-budget in history and could well be shambolic.
However, even if the London Olympics are an absolute fiasco, I don't think it would stop companies investing in the UK. It would be viewed as a messed up project and nothing more. People would have a good laugh at the UK and that would be it.

South Africa has a lot more riding on this. It is putting itself in the global shop window and will want to show itself as a dynamic, modern nation that is a safe place to invest in. If it's a shambles it wouldn't be long before the old, hoary stereotypes are being played out in the media and it could discourage foreign investment in the long term.

Not that the purpose of the World Cup is to generate future economic investment or anything but you would be hoping that a relatively poor country like South Africa would be hoping for some kind of return on the investment.

Also, it has got to be a good thing for us Europeans that the games are to be held on the African continent rather than in the Americas or Oz. I hate getting up at 6 in the morning to drink beer and watch the game.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 6:16 AM on June 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I just came from lunch at a restaurant opposite the site of the proposed stadium in Cape Town in Green Point. It's been a major point of contention in Cape Town because the site of the stadium seems to have been chosen by FIFA purely because it's position will allow nice overhead sweeping shots of the sea, Table Mountain and the stadium in one take not because it's actually a good site for a stadium.

Everyone knows that after the stadium is built it will be a complete white elephant. The football clubs who will use that stadium struggle to fill half the capacity of the old Green Point stadium that is currently being demolished. The new one will be three times the size. The city also struggled to maintain the old stadium but our (non-ANC) mayor has had to go along with FIFA and national government otherwise Cape Town will not host any semi-finals.

Rugby (by far the most profitable game in Cape Town) is played at Newlands Stadium on the other side of Table Mountain. That would have been an ideal stadium because it sits on a railway line (one of Cape Town's few) and would require only an upgrade and the addition of perhaps 10 000 extra seats.

More puzzling about the choice of site is that it is so far from the core fans of local football who are traditionally the coloured and black communities on the Cape Flats (the white population of SA can roll off statistics about the English Premier league a lot easier than they can our own). A proposed stadium close to those areas was quickly dismissed by FIFA and so instead a new football stadium will be built in one of the more upmarket traditionally white areas on the Atlantic seaboard, location of some of the most expensive property in Cape Town.

The new stadium complex will also build over the Green Point Common, an open piece of land housing fields for smaller clubs and schools and the only metropolitan golf courses within 10km of the city centre (although that will be rebuilt later).
posted by PenDevil at 6:24 AM on June 3, 2007

An article about how a major international sporting event is being planned in a way that doesn't reflect local needs or actual fans. Was this editorial passed by
posted by srboisvert at 6:33 AM on June 3, 2007

This raises serious questions about how to lift africa out of poverty. How do you build infrastructure that doesn't interfere or destroy things such as the minibus's that operate continent wide.

As much as I want to see africa succeed it would hate to see the 17:50 ICE to Johannesburg.
posted by ossobo at 7:27 AM on June 3, 2007

Please don't hold a romantic view about minibus taxis. They are little more than a front for organised crime resorting to murders and shootings whenever a conflict arises between operators.

Public transport in SA (Cape Town in particular) is a mess and taxi operators, who threaten violence whenever government attempts to actually clamp down unroadworthy vehicles and unlicensed drivers are not helping.

I would bet that 99% of South Africans would love to see the 17:50 to Johannesburg.
posted by PenDevil at 7:42 AM on June 3, 2007

I cant speak for south africa, but I have used this mode of transport all over eastern, central and western africa and never had a problem.

Can you point me to some kind of reputable source to back this claim up?

Is this south african specific?
posted by ossobo at 7:47 AM on June 3, 2007

The minibus (or vans, as we call them in Brazil) are very popular, because they cost the same as a bus (intercity lines are cheaper) and the confort is far superior.

BUT the unions that control the minivans are controlled by mob types, near every month someone is shot in a zone dispute, and they don't care about parking spaces, traffic laws and other minor nuisances.

They crowd the streets, and some don't leave until the car is full, rush hour is not fun, with a gazillion buses, 5 gazillion cars and 2.5 gazillion vans.
posted by cardoso at 7:56 AM on June 3, 2007

I've used minibuses all over Cape Town, the rest of South Africa and Lesotho and never had a problem. I wouldn't dispute that organised crime has some control over them in the metro areas though.
My guess is that FIFA calculated that for the World Cup at least, relatively few people from the Cape Flats would be paying huge ticket prices to attend the matches, and whatever future benefits there might have been to having the stadium out there was outweighed by current realities: safety and convenience for visitors as well as aesthetics.
posted by Flashman at 8:37 AM on June 3, 2007

I was in South Africa right after the 1995 Rugby World Cup. And they were quite proud of how that turned out; it seemed like they had proven that post-Apartheid South Africa could do a big international event.

Admittedly, this was with half the teams of a modern football World Cup, and the infrastructure was most already there, but it did seem like they did enough to impress people into thinking they could pull off 2010.

And if not... back to America? We have a 73,000 seat soccer-ready stadium here in Seattle that we didn't have in 1994. Hopefully, that means we'll at least get a qualifier. I hope they don't stick with those dinky MLS stadiums in LA and Dallas.
posted by dw at 9:19 AM on June 3, 2007

And if not... back to America?

Where football is a game not played with the feet? C'mon now.
posted by three blind mice at 10:58 AM on June 3, 2007

Where football is a game not played with the feet? C'mon now.

Well, to be fair the ball is actually kicked a few times during the game. However, it is interesting why soccer has never really caught on here at the professional level.

I suspect two reasons. First, it's primarily seen as a "European" game (and we all know what that means in America's heartland). Second, soccer is simply not violent enough for our tastes. We think it's a great sport for kids, but in the end, we really want to see 350 lb. guys in body armor pounding the ever-loving crap out of each other.

As the saying goes, golf would be the most-watched sport in America if the green was sewn with landmines.
posted by mstefan at 12:43 PM on June 3, 2007

It's worth noting that the World Cup is the equivalent of holding 3-4 Olympics, perhaps even more. The article talks about 500 000 people in Berlin watching the game. This shows just how big the World Cup is.

FIFA has pulled the World Cup before. Columbia was meant to hold the 1986 event but decided they couldn't afford it. The World Cup is a billion dollar event. If they think it will be a disaster FIFA will pull the even from SA.

They will be reluctant to do this, having a World Cup in Africa is strongly desired but if it the world cup is moved, the US would be the bet to hold it. Australia won't get it. We couldn't hold the people who would show up.
posted by sien at 2:05 PM on June 3, 2007

...the organisers seem to want to try to run the World Cup as efficiently as the Germans did.

There could be worse fates. An efficiently-run World Cup is a very, very good thing for the sport, whether it's hosted in Germany, South Africa, Greenland, or Sepp Blatter's backyard. Giving the Cup an African flavor doesn't require disorganization, does it?

Where football is a game not played with the feet? C'mon now.

To quote Willie Sutton, "go where the money is, and go there often." The World Cup will be back in the United States within 30 years.
posted by sellout at 2:42 PM on June 3, 2007

Where football is a game not played with the feet? C'mon now.

And yet, wasn't every game sold out in 1994? Didn't that awful Cup final still draw 92,000+ to the Rose Bowl?

South Africa has three World Cup ready stadiums. Metro Los Angeles has three -- Rose Bowl, Coliseum, Home Depot Center though it would require a 15,000 seat expansion to get it to 40,000). And then you throw in Qualcomm in San Diego, the Oakland Coliseum, the new Stanford Stadium, San Jose Stadium, and Candlestick Park, and hey, California could host the World Cup all by itself. (And that's even without using Bulldog Stadium in Fresno.)

And that's just California. Texas could probably do it by themselves, too -- with THREE climate-controlled roofed stadiums (once the new Texas Stadium opens in 2009).

And trust me, Americans will show for the games. And if they don't, the increasingly weak dollar will pull in the tourists.

I suspect two reasons.

Let me give you four other reasons:
1. By the time association football crossed the Atlantic, there had been professional baseball in the US for 20+ years, and it already was entrenched in American founding myths.

2. Association football was an East Coast sport. American rules football spread into the Midwest and West. And in between the rugby rules found a lot more popularity.

3. The forward pass added a whole new strategic dimension (even if it didn't become popular until after WWII).

4. Jim Thorpe played tackle football.
posted by dw at 3:04 PM on June 3, 2007

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