If you watch ESPN, you have seen this tag line for the 2010 World Cup quite frequently – One Game Changes Everything . The idea behind this marketing strategy is to imply that with the first game being played in South Africa (on June 11) all is changed, changed utterly. The continent of Africa has never hosted a World Cup and curiously, the only nation capable of fielding this global event is South Africa. But 16 years removed from international boycotts levied by the entire world, South Africa was graciously allowed to formalize normal trading relations once minority-rule by those who created that nation was supplanted with majority-rule by those who had the good fortune of living on that continent in vastly superior numbers. Now, we are about to find out how wonderful life in South Africa is now, thanks to the benevolent rule of Africans over that of the malicious reign of terror imposed by the white minority called Apartheid. We’ve discussed South Africa before at SBPDL, but next week you’ll be treated to the most in-depth preview of the coming World Cup in South Africa available anywhere. Bloomberg Businessweek dedicated a cover story to South Africa, the impending World Cup and the current standard of living that citizens of that nation enjoy. For all the praise that is heaped in the general direction of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the macabre underbelly of the actual day-to-day struggle of life in South Africa is shockingly sadistic:
The couple is thoroughly conversant in South Africa’s challenges: crime, poor schools, a recent outbreak of anti-immigrant violence, political corruption. They recount headlines about black students outside of Cape Town who went on strike because their class size of 60-plus prevented anyone from learning anything. “It can be discouraging at times,” says Eberhard. They also know that somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million white South Africans, depending on whose statistics you believe, now live in Britain. Some have gone seeking opportunity; others have fled what Young calls “the more difficult aspects of being a young democracy.” Crime is high on that list. The U.S. State Dept. still ranks South Africa as among the most crime-ridden nations on the African continent, reporting that it has “the highest incidence of reported rape in the world.”
The individual behind this site has read every book possible on the so-called “Beautiful Game” that Americans call soccer and the world calls futbol. Trying to understand a sport so many Americans – and Black people in particular – shy away would difficult, were it not for the bountiful supply of books that have been published recently that explain the game to a laymen and adds further proof to the thesis of this site: without sports, Black people would have absolutely no positive role models. One Game Changes Everything. If the World Cup in South Africa goes off without a hitch, despite the fact that The Wall Street Journal has already published reports on the melancholy ticket sales and interest in traveling to the ‘Rainbow Nation”, then what is gained? Will the Disingenuous White Liberal’s of the world smile if the World Cup goes off without any problems, since it was FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter who pushed for the tournament to be hosted on the Dark Continent:
But the FIFA chief said his first task was to deliver a successful World Cup in South Africa in June and July.
“The World Cup in South Africa is my World Cup,” Blatter said.
“I wanted the World Cup to go to Africa and I have to see it through. The international media, especially in Europe, are watching me.”
Blatter told The USA Today that his great hope for the games is that Nelson Mandela can be present for them, since the current state of South Africa is his legacy:
But, as FIFA president Sepp Blatter has suggested all along, South Africa 2010 could have a lasting effect throughout Africa, not just in the host country. “We can all applaud Africa,” Blatter said way back in 2004, when this cup was awarded. “The victor is football. The victor is Africa.” Blatter remains hopeful Nelson Mandela will be healthy enough to attend the opening game at Soccer City, one of 10 stadiums being used in nine cities. South Africa’s most famous citizen campaigned hard to bring the World Cup to his country, and tears of joy filled his eyes when it won the tournament. But Mandela is 91, and rarely makes public appearances anymore. “We cross fingers that Nelson Mandela … can realize this dream. And his dream would be to be at the opening of the World Cup,” Blatter said. “It will be his World Cup.”
Already, reports of strikes within the transport and electrical industries threaten the peace and harmony of the World Cup. And we are still two weeks away from the first kick. Security for the games has been a huge concern, as South Africa had 19,000 murders in 2008 (50 per day). The Telegraph in England published a story on May 28 in an attempt to downplay the violence in South Africa:
Much has been said in the build-up to the World Cup about South Africa’s crime problem and the threats to visiting supporters. While crime is a serious problem here, it needs to be put in perspective. The country’s murder rate has decreased from 67.9 per 100,000 in 1995 to 37.3 in 2009. That is an overall decrease of about 44 per cent. Of course, this figure is still extremely high when compared to the global homicide rate of 7.6 per 100,000 and, in real terms, amounts to almost 50 murders per day. However, in almost 80 per cent of murders, the victim and killer are known to each other – in other words, it is within a social context that poses no direct threat to strangers. The same can be said for other so-called “social fabric” crimes such as rape, assault and attempted murder. House robbery, business robbery and car hijackings are currently South Africa’s biggest crime threat, and attempts to address this problem have not been very successful. However, with the possible exception of car hijackings, they, too, pose little threat to tourists. Visitors who rent cars may face the same risks as South Africans as far as hijackings are concerned, but it should also be pointed out that during the six weeks of the Cricket World Cup in South Africa in 2003, when hijackings were more or less at the same level, no hijackings connected to the tournament were reported. Probably the biggest potential threats to tourists are street robbery and muggings, which still constitute about 60 per cent of all aggravated robberies. According to the police’s annual report for 2008-2009, firearms were used in 57 per cent of these crimes and knives in 38 per cent, but these weapons were mostly used to threaten and not to cause physical harm.
The Los Angeles Times published an excellent guide to those traveling to South Africa to view the World Cup and stated that despite exorbitant crime and AIDS rates, it is still beautiful country. Of course, this website pointed out that the eyes of the world are unprepared for the sight of corruption they will soon see when the cameras are on and broadcasting from South Africa. Next week, the preview of the upcoming World Cup in South Africa begins. A clearer picture of what will unfold there will not be found anywhere else. We are reminded of the movie Invictus when we hear the phrase, One Game Changes Everything . That film ends with the 1995 rugby victory, but forgets to show the viewer what followed that wonderful moment of reconciliatory congratulations and hope for racial unity. Perhaps the 2010 World Cup will provide a most apt sequel:
Blacks for the most part still live in poverty, and the gap between rich and poor has only grown since 1994. The end of apartheid was also the beginning of a national experiment in building unity. Sport has been used to move the process. Recalled by last year’s Oscar-nominated film “Invictus,” black President Nelson Mandela made a statement at the 1995 rugby World Cup final by wearing the green and gold jersey of the Springboks, the country’s national rugby team many blacks associated with the most racist whites. Pillay, a researcher at South Africa’s Human Science Research Council, said the World Cup “now is the emotional glue that holds the country together.” While soccer fans might be shocked to see beggars — black and white — outside gleaming shopping malls, South Africans are used to living in two worlds at once. Think of the legions of black maids who leave shacks without running water or electricity, boarding buses before dawn to travel into white areas to clean palatial homes. Johannesburg businessman Mandla Sibeko summed up the contrasts: “South Africa, we’re a crazy nation. “The world is going to be amazed at how hopeful and how patient South Africans are.”
One Game Changes Everything . Join us next week to find out why.