Not much happening today, except for German police and demonstrators beating each other up yesterday at the G8 get together. So I ended up reading a piece about Mugabe in the Scotsman newspaper. As I was saying, a quiet day. Apparently the University of Edingburgh is withdrawing Mugabe’s honorary degree. The forum discussion around this short article was more interesting than the article itself.
One of the points somebody made in the forum was that the demise of Zimbabwe had been anticipated and that South Africa would be next. Never mind all the doom and gloom of poverty, AIDs etc, the biggest disaster would be that SA would not be ready for the World Cup, that is if the Football World Cup were even going to be held there.
The question whether SA will be ready in time for the World Cup gets a regular airing in the South African press as well. Mostly the headlines scream that there is no way that the country will be ready. This kind of emotional outburst certainly is able to sell newspapers or get good viewing figures on TV, but it is really a bizarre statement.
Of course SA will be ready for the World Cup. Possibly not everything will work efficiently. But there will be sufficient stadia ready, possibly the newer larger ones might not be (like the one in CT), but then the game can be moved to a smaller venue. All that is required is that TV and IT are ready. The infrastructure that SA has, will make this a given.
For me a bigger question is whether the huge numbers of people, as anticipated, will actually make the hike to the country. Remember that the average football fan comes from the solid middle class. Whether these folk will have the budget to travel to SA and pay the heavy hotel costs, is not something I would want to put my money on.
In Germany last year, people from all over Europe caught trains, buses, camped, watched the games in German town squares on big screens and generally treated the whole thing as a street party. In fact some of the games by lesser supported teams were not sold out. For Germany the boost in income came from the takings of pubs, restaurants, small B&Bs and transport. The fabulous weather obviously also played its part to making it a huge German party.
Will these same numbers of people travel to SA? I don’t think so. I think the World Cup revenue will be made from locals and the rest of Africa visitors, product sponsorships and the broadcast rights. For that kind of limited influx of visitors, the infrastructure as it stands now is fairly adequate. SA will be ready.
Take the example of the Cricket world cup that attracted far less visitors than expected to SA and for the West Indies recently. People just didn’t travel. The football fans in Europe will have their own street parties in their own countries. So to all those headline grabbing hysteria stoking folks, relax, everything will be fine. South Africa will deliver a great World Cup.
As for broadcast, SA is one of the top countries for sport coverage. I listened to the England vs SA rugby game on Saturday on BBC radio. It went something like this. So and so has had a bit of injury lately, oh, interception by Habana, he seems to be running well, oh a try. Well done. Now lets check out the horse racing results! Right we are back, nothing much has happened, the Springboks did score two tries which does seem to put the game out of England’s reach. Lets go back to horse racing to see the final standings.
Possibly the BBC used test cricket commentators who may not be used to any action, but whatever the reason, the broadcast was a joke. Listen to SA sports commentators and watch the exceptional quality of footage. It’s top class. SA will be ready for the World Cup. In fact some of the foreign sports broadcast teams could learn from SA.