PtG Article 01.06.2010

Africa’s World Cup?

“Sport can unite the African continent and help establish peace” said South African President Jacob Zuma at a gala dinner celebrating Africa Day on Saturday. He believes that the entire African continent can claim ownership of the event, which should be used to ensure dialogue and co-operation among Africans.

“To all participating African countries, especially the players, they should know that they carry the hopes of all Africans on their shoulders” Zuma proclaimed. What is in it for the rest of the continent?Many people before Jacob Zuma have claimed that the 2010 World Cup is Africa’s World Cup. Television adverts show Africans from other part of the continent reminiscing on the first World Cup on African soil. They remember all the stars and the great support the tournament had throughout the continent. And the South African Local Organising Committee (SALOC) refer to the event as the ‘African World Cup’, writes Mmegi Online, a Botswana news site.But how does the fact that the World Cup is being held on African soil for the first time influence Africans outside South Africa? What does the tournament hold for them?TicketsIt appears that few Africans outside South Africa will get tickets to the games. This is partly because most of the tickets will only be available through the Internet and partly because many of the tickets are too expensive for the average African.South Africans have been able to buy tickets over the counter, but in Botswana despite thousands of enquiries, less than 500 tickets were allocated for sale. Teams and matchesSeveral African nations have spent a great amount of money renovating and building stadia hoping to host some of the teams before the June 11 kick off, or even host some of the pre-tournament training matches.However, a vigorous campaign from South Africa has ensured that all teams and matches are hosted within South Africa.Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzebi is also skeptical about what exactly a country like Zimbabwe stands to gain from the tournament. The African legacy programme set by the South African LOC in 2006 says that one of the core focus areas is to make a continental-wide legacy that is not confined to the host country, he explained to Zimbabwe’s newspaper The Independent. “Is this vision still on course? I wonder” he said.South Africans never really intended to share the cake with the rest of the continent as we are made to believe.  South African provinces, with far better facilities than most African countries, were competing for the same teams. Logically, most teams preferred the host nation, writes Mmegi Online.South Africa’s World CupSo even though Jacob Zuma, SALOC and FIFA tries to portray the 2010 World Cup as the continent’s tournament, is seems as if only few African nations outside South Africa will truly be affected by the first ever World Cup on African soil. However, there is nothing wrong with South Africa parading the event as theirs, writes Mmegi Online. It was South Africa and NOT Africa that won the bid to host the first World Cup to be hosted on the continent. Neither Germany which hosted the 2006 event, branded it as a European event, nor Japan and South Korea called it an Asian tournament despite it being hosted in the continent for the first time.