World Cup 2010: The positive side of the World Cup

Having already dealt with the undeniable negative sides of the 2010 World Cup, such as human rights violations, unnecessary expenditure, and South African riot police charging peaceful demonstrators, let us look at the positive side of the World Cup for South Africa and Africa as a whole.

On the pitch, South Africa drew 1-1 with Mexico, having gone 1-0 up from a magnificent strike from Tshabalala. Ghana deservedly beat Serbia 1-0, with a both skilful and tactically adept performance. And although Nigeria expectedly lost 1-0 to Maradona’s Argentina, Algeria lost 1-0 to Slovenia, and Cameroon and the Ivory Coast are yet to play, the World Cup can therefore be seen as having been a relative success for Africa on the pitch so far.

Of the pitch, the World Cup has also been a success, especially if measured against the many patronizing reports from journalists that are so typical of any reporting on Africa – focusing on crime, poverty, exotic animals, and a belief that South Africa (and Africans in general) are not fit to host a tournament of this magnitude. Hopefully, the World Cup can help overcome some of these stereotypes about Africa that abound in the media and in Europe in general.

In this respect, the tournament has also been a success so far. The South African fans have proven a positive experience for the visiting fans, as well as having themselves enjoyed the spectacle of hosting the World Cup. There was a national euphoria after South Africa’s 1-1 draw with Mexico, echoed by Desmond Tutu’s claim that “sometimes one wonderful day in our lives is much better than years of misery” and that “humans don’t live on bread alone, you need things that inspire you”. This might be overstating the case rather, but at least the World Cup has at least finally given something back to South Africans in return for the high financial and human costs of hosting the tournament. Let us hope that the changed perceptions of Africa that the World Cup will hopefully help bring about will help produce some of the promised “bread” as well. Humans after all don’t live on inspiration alone.

Links:

The myths and realities of the FIFA Soccer World Cup, Dale McKinley

World Cup organizers battle to contain strikes, Mail & Guardian, 15 June 2010

Vi får ikke glæde af VM i fodbold, Arbejderen, 15 June 2010

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