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World Cup highs and lows (so far)

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Paul Fletcher | 07:34 UK time, Thursday, 1 July 2010

World Cup 2010: Pretoria

Wednesday was undoubtedly a strange day. I felt slightly lost and disorientated, with a nagging thought at the back of my mind that there was something I ought to be doing.

It was the first time since 11 June that there was no football to watch. After 56 games over 19 football-filled days, the World Cup finally paused for breath.

Having travelled more than 3,000 miles on the BBC bus, visiting nine stadiums and watching 19 teams in action, I thought it was time that I also took stock.

So here are a few things I have enjoyed about this tournament - and some I haven't.

The good things

1. Diego Maradona

He might be just 5ft 5in tall but the Argentine legend is without question the biggest show in town.

His press conferences have been pure theatre, with the man with the diamond earrings and the salt and pepper beard unleashing the full gamut of human emotions. Smiles are quickly followed by rage, harassed journalists are chopped off mid-question or told that their enquiry is utterly stupid.

Diego Maradona cannot keep still on the touchline Maradona refuses to pull any punches. Photo: Getty

The great man appeared after his team's victory over Mexico covertly smoking a cigar and refused to leave when Fifa's media officer said the session was over, instead deciding he would take more questions.

He arrived at the ground in one shell suit, leading the singing on the coach. He changed into a natty grey number for the match and sported a different tracksuit for the press conference.

During every game he has paced back and forth in the technical area, treated us to a few keepy-ups if the ball came his way and pirouetted in furious frustration every time a decision has gone against his team.

I cannot remember a coach every being the biggest draw but he is pure box office.

2. Radio 2000

There is a commentator on this station who is, in my humble opinion, a genius. This unknown master of the mic described hardly any of the action in the France v Mexico game as we listened in the bus.

Instead, he treated us to lines delivered with a combination of intense excitement and sage wisdom, such as "hasta la vista Le Blues" or "Mexico score to take the lead, 2-0."

On another night, he delivered this footballing red-herring. "Argentine attack, MMMEESSSSIIIIIIIIIIIII........(long pause)...........shoots wide."

3. A stadium that looks like a giraffe

I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen to the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit now that the World Cup has drawn to a close there. Neither did any of the locals that I chatted with.

It cost £115m to build but there were allegations of financial irregularities while a local councilman, who had spoken out about the alleged corruption, was murdered.

However, the venue must take top marks for originality of design, with the 18 roof supports looking like giraffes. I just hope they find a use for it.

4. The Cameroon kit

This will hardly be an original thought to anyone who follows the team in the flesh on a regular basis. But, watching Cameroon take on Denmark in Pretoria, I was blown away by the dazzling effect of a player in full flight wearing the green, red and yellow of the west African side.

It created a wonderful blur of colour. Just a shame that they could not produce football of a similarly mesmeric quality. In stark contrast, the yellow and red stripes sported by Ghana in their victory over the USA left a lot to be desired.

5. The final round of group games

The opening round of matches were largely disappointing, with so many cagey fixtures, none more so than the 0-0 borefest between Uruguay and the hapless French. There were six goalless or 1-1 draws and six 1-0 wins in the opening 16 games.

Of course, that meant that there was plenty at stake in the third round of group matches.

According to my rudimentary maths, only Cameroon, Honduras and North Korea had nothing but pride to play for, while 2006 finalists Italy and France were sent packing in the final round of games.

The bad things

1. Empty seats

Yes, I know that South African sports fans have a reputation for turning up late at games but that simply doesn't explain the large number of empty seats that I have seen at every single match I have watched.

Some attendances have been particularly disappointing; with the match between Portugal and Ivory Coast in Port Elizabeth an excellent example. The stadium holds more than 48,000 but just 37,034 turned up. Then again, perhaps some people knew what sort of game it was going to be. Apparently, it was even worse for the contest between South Korea and Greece in the same arena.

As for the corporate areas, speaking purely on anecdotal evidence, I would say that occupancy has been way below 50%.

2. Vuvuzelas

I've thought long and hard about this one. At first, I tried to convince myself that it was part of the culture of watching football in South Africa and should be respected as something fresh and new, a bit like the Mexican wave that the 1986 World Cup gave to the world.

A fan blows a vuvuzelaVuvuzelas - you either love them or loathe them. Photo: Getty

However, the vuvuzela swamps every other attempt to generate an atmosphere. Singing and chanting just hasn't stood a chance. Poor.

3. The birth of the Kaitarism

There is no doubt that Nigeria's Sani Kaita was a very silly boy when he saw red for a needless lunge at Greece's Vasileios Torosidis. His 33rd-minute dismissal cost his team the game as a 1-0 lead turned into a 2-1 defeat. It also gave birth to a new word, as this post from Jesse-Pool in a blog I wrote about the match explains in quite some detail:

Kai*ta, Kai*tas, kai*ta'ed, kai*ta'ing

1. To single-handedly dash the hopes and aspirations of one's nation in the full glare of other nations;
2. To karate-kick your way out of the greatest stage/spotlight ever known to man;
3. To destroy/zap/siphon the energies of team-mates plus 140 million people through unexplainable stupidity;
4. To act foolishly, unintelligently or irrationally and IMMEDIATELY regret the action by falling on your knees.

(Etymology: Derived from the dreadful match between Nigeria and lowly Greece at the 2010 Soccer World Cup)

Usage:

"Please, please, do not KAITA what we have been building for 50 years o! Oloshi!"

"I don't care what people say, I will KAITA the multi-billion dollar plan!"

"That man, you know, the hopeless, useless, visionless, KAITAing guy!"

"I was KAITAing until I met Jesus!"

Synonyms:

1. Sabotage
2. Incapacitate
3. Destroy/Demobilize
4. Jeopardize
5. Impair
6. Implode
7. Shege Banza!

Please feel free to investigate the original blog for the rest of the definition.

4. Mixed zone madness

The mixed zone is an area players have to walk through after a match as they make their way to their bus. The route has a barrier on each side, beyond which are journalists hoping to interview the players. Whether the players stop or not is entirely up to them.

After Cameroon lost to Denmark, I was stood next to a colleague from BBC Radio 5 live. Samuel Eto'o walked past but he does not speak English and thus was of limited interest to us (being typically poor at languages). Someone shouted his name and the Inter Milan forward stopped just in front of us.

A scrum of journalists immediately crushed us against the barrier, which duly gave way and had to be held up by two volunteers. Had it completely collapsed, we would have crashed into Eto'o, potentially injuring one of the world's finest players. Thankfully, we escaped with nothing more than bruised ribs

5. Black Sunday

Not a great day for officials. First, Frank Lampard was denied a totally legitimate goal because the referee and his assistants failed to spot his strike has crossed the line - and by some considerable distance.

Then Mexico had the stuffing knocked out of them by an astonishingly bad offside decision that resulted in Carlos Tevez putting Argentina in front.

There was a referee's open day earlier this week at which the media were welcome to attend. Guess who didn't show? Yep, Jorge Larrionda and Roberto Rosetti - the men in the middle in the two games of shame.

So there you have it, my highs and lows so far. There are just eight games left - and one of those is the meaningless third/fourth place play-off.

How this tournament will be judged still hangs in the balance - and after a largely flat round of 16, a few classic encounters between now and 11 July would be most welcome.

Do you agree?

You can follow me throughout the World Cup at twitter.com/Paul__Fletcher

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Yeah am tha 1st one.i think the referes hav tried apart 4rm black sunday.

  • Comment number 2.

    hi paul
    do you still manage to get a game of cricket,i'm in portugal watching the soccer.
    regards dave winstanley

  • Comment number 3.

    The language used in the opening post by Goonerdhabz had certainly KAITA'ed my enthusiasm for posting comments.

  • Comment number 4.

    Entertaining blog. However, being an African of European decent, I would have to disagree on the vuvuzela comment. Look, I realise that most European games are dominated by singing and chanting which create their own form of atmosphere, but this is an African world cup. It may not be to everyone's taste but isn't that the point of moving the World Cup around? Having watched a few games the noise levels created are unlike any European game I've every watched live (Spain and England).

    Watching the damp squib that was Portugal v Brazil I have never in my life witnessed such amazing atmosphere when the players walked out. Very different to the likes of Anfield and the chilling rendition of you'll never walk alone, but equally enjoyable. I think too much has been made of it my foreign television producers.

    Also, I think more than Nelspruit's stadium will battle to find use after the circus has moved on. There are not enough "bums on seats" in the smaller towns to warrant having spent such vast amounts on these stadiums. Very poor when the money could have been spent on education, housing etc etc. and the venues limited to Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and maybe P.E

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the low point was the ejection and subsequent arrest of dutch supporters.

    Now I understand that Fifa is a mainly commercial organization and that they have investors (or sponsors), but they should really review their tactics if they want to prevent highly creative people trying to get in on the act. What is brilliant about this whole affair is that I, like many people, had never heard of the "hijacking" brand, but now, and because Fifa acted like bullies, I have great respect for their creativity and humour. Something Fifa obviously know little about.

  • Comment number 6.

    What a Kaitastrophe!

  • Comment number 7.

    Anyway we can get Radio 2000 online it sounds Jokes?

  • Comment number 8.

    What a strange blog entry...

  • Comment number 9.

    "g which create their own form of atmosphere, but this is an African world cup. It may "


    Its the "World Cup" held in Africa.


    Personally I think if we ever host it again we should use 10'000 loud speakers each pumping out the annoying rattle at 130Db's for 90 minutes every game and just shrug our shoulders and say "Hey its part of our culture"


  • Comment number 10.

    They're were not 6 goaless draws in the first 16 games!! and the last round of 16 was flat??? England V Germany, Argentina V Mexico, Brazil V Chile, referee errors, sending off's, stunning goals (Tevez, Villa, Saurez!)

    I think you might be watching a different world cup to me mate OR

    Your an english journo where every team in the competition is "average" (except of course the mighty England!!) and nothing can compare to 1970 blah blah blah ad nauseum.

  • Comment number 11.

    It seems you have found more to moan about than anything else. It strikes me that you have mostly been sitting behind your laptop or in a press conference. Its a shame you have not experienced the amazing atmosphere and incredible comradeship amongst all the fans at the stadiums and around south Africa. Its a special spirit that i feel privileged to be a part of. Spend some time out of your box and enjoy it.

  • Comment number 12.

    Being a bit picky here, but Honduras could still have made it through in their final game if they had beaten Switzerland and Spain had lost to Chile (with a 4 goal swing).

    I know that's unlikely, but it was no more unlikely than Cote d'Ivoire overturning a 9 goal swing to eliminate Portugal.

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree with most of what you've said, but let's not allow a narrow-sighted English-centric view of those woeful decisions detract attention from the fact that the refereeing standards during the whole tournament have been utterly disgraceful and I am confident that this is the reason the tournament got off to a dismal start. For example, we were on about 6 or 7 red cards at the 20 games played mark. In the premiership after 20 games you may see 1 or 2 red cards, and maybe a penalty. I'm sure this applies in other leagues as well. So why is this World Cup producing all these cards (including yellow)? I just don't get it. And then there is the other poor decisions etc. The only Englishman to come out with any credit during this World Cup is Howard Web

  • Comment number 14.

    Agreed on all (well no idea about the radio or the mixed zone of course) but the Ghana kit - I thought it looked quite nice with the red and the yellow, quite striking.

  • Comment number 15.

    Having been lucky enough to attend a game in Port Elizabeth during the World Cup I have to say I like the vuvuzelas. Same going for watching tv games with them on.

    It will be strange next season to watch games without them. Hope they become a fixture in European football!

  • Comment number 16.

    And of course the highlight has been the emergence of a wonderful young German team, who hopefully have much further to go in this World Cup! Mesut Ozil especially.

  • Comment number 17.

    As a South African who has been anticipating this event for 4 years now, I expected to see incredible football, but abject organisation and embarrassing stories about crime. In reality, the games I've seen have been dull, unadventurous draws, where the biggest star has been the stadium architecture rather than the overpaid European prima donnas. On the other hand what has blown me away has been the slick organisation, the amazing atmosphere on the fanwalks and in the stadiums, and in the resurgent optimism and sense of unity seen in my fellow South Africans. I hope it lasts after the world Cup but it almost certainly won't ... until we get the Olymics!

  • Comment number 18.

    Good thing #6: The Dutch Bavaria Beer Girls. They pleased the eye and by getting arrested on orders of FIFA, the biggest advertising stunt of the World Cup.

    Bad Thing #6: FIFA making 2,1 billion pounds with this tournament while people next to stadiums have no running water or closed sewage system. This commercialism is getting ridiculous.

  • Comment number 19.

    Enjoyable round up of the World Cup so far Paul - you're right the majority of matches have been average at best (so far ;)!) but it did seem strange without a game to look forward to yesterday evening. What would you and others think about Fifa stretching the tournament out a bit further as it's impossible for most people to keep up with 3 games a day in the opening fortnight all at different times and then go through this 'cold turkey' at the end - suppose it would be a nightmare logistically!?

    In the footie vacuum we were treated to a 'rock n' roll' highlights show of 'Germany 2006' last night by the beebs' main terrestrial competition which makes me think they are trying to dredge the last remaining enthusiasm out for a disappointing WC 'England wise' by reliving past 'glories' as this one hasn't had too many. I noticed the commentator at the staryt of England's 3rd group game say 'England haven't played as well as we know they can so far' and at the end 'England are through to the knock-outs..just..but they did enough and that's all that matters!' (familiar heh?) What I did miss from watching it is seeing all the fans' colourful shirts and flags we've become so accustomed to seeing (waves of everyone in orange at Holland games etc) and sadly lacking this time around - realise the winter weather doesn't help in that regard in S.A. though - although some have tried.

    Maradona's seemingly becoming the media equivalent of Mourinho for entertainment value, but my memory of the WC will be of something the vast majority seem to have forgotten about (maybe we've all been hypnotised?) - that bird sitting guard on the Algeria net - incredible...was it witchcraft..will we ever know!?

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi there
    The vuvuzelas has been great for the matches. I've watched three live games in Soccer City, Loftus Verfelt and Royal Bafokeng. The ambience was wonderful, the vuvuzelas lifted everything. I think you have to be a grumpy old Englishman to write what you do about these horns. Enjoy South Africa, embrace the atmosphere, be here!
    The Western media just want's something to complain about now everything has gone smoothly on the ground. Please give us a break and believe me, the vuvuzelas are staying in the game worldwide, just as the Mexican Wave has done since 1986.
    Go Germany!
    Cheers

  • Comment number 21.

    I once went to an Arsenal vs Fulham premier league game where the Arsenal fans chanted "Adebayor, Adebayoooooooor give him the ball and he will score."
    They chanted this over and over again for 90 minutes!!!!
    It was tough. That's all I have to say on that...

  • Comment number 22.

    "Instead, he treated us to lines delivered with a combination of intense excitement and sage wisdom, such as "hasta la vista Le Blues" or "Mexico score to take the lead, 2-0."


    Guess you had to be there.

    High point in footballing terms? Italy - Slovakia, USA - Ghana. New Zealand scoring against Italy, North Korea scoring against Brazil. There's been some great goals but these quarter finals will need to be absolute stormers for this World Cup to be remembered fondly. I fear the awful opening round of group games has already biased people to negativity.

  • Comment number 23.

    Regarding the vuvuzelas - I've been at a few games in SA - the England matches, plus Holland v Cameroon and Portugal v Spain. The England matches were an interesting mix of singing and chanting and vuvuzelas, basically because there were enough English there to make their usual noise. Hence the atmosphere was fantastic.

    However, at the other two games there were not enough nationals of the teams playing to generate any real atmosphere, so those games would've been very flat if it weren't for the vuvuzelas.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    It's just a shame that the FA seem determined to Kaita both the English national team and our hopes to host the next tournament but one. Bunch of Kaitaing Robgreens they are.

  • Comment number 26.

    It's a shame that the vuvuzela has damaged the WC so badly.

    Every moment of viewing is just 'buzzzzz'.
    Players come out 'buzzzzz', kickoff 'buzzzzz', a corner 'buzzzzz', a shot 'buzzzzz', a save 'buzzzzz', a goal 'buzzzzz', any injury 'buzzzzz', full-time 'buzzzzz', game over 'buzzzzz'.

    The biggest cheer/buzzzzz seems to be when the attendance is announced. Says a lot about those at the games.

    I'm a Liverpool fan, and if "You'll Never Walk Alone" was sung continuously for 90mins of every game (and the games where Liverpool wasn't playing) then it just loses its uniqueness.

    Had the vuvuzela been used at each of SA's own home games then it probably would have been enjoyable and would have been an abiding memory of the WC. But they've become boring and repetitive. Used by those with little interest in what happens on the pitch, and more interest in hoping they appear on the big screen.

  • Comment number 27.

    Paul - I totally disagree that it is the local South Africans that are to blame for empty seats. Firstly the overall attendances has outstripped the German world cup and that is because we dont have any small stadiums and minor games are still played in huge stadiums. But more to the point they cant get tickets !!! I have friends in Jhb who slept, camping overnight to try and buy tickets and that was 2 days in advance. Our family back in Cape Town has been trying to buy tickets for months and have been continually told that the games were sold out. The seats are mostly sold / allocated and folk havent turned up. Like the Greece game in PE for example - there were large blocks of empty seats which can only be attributable to overseas supporters who hadnt turned up en masse. Perhaps bought tickets before the EU financial disaster? FIFA have made a mess of the ticketing process and there have been lots of irregularities with the result being empty stadiums. Every South African I know, including 80 year old grandmothers are attending games and going to the fan parks and there is certainly no apathy. Please check your information first and do some talking to FIFA about the tickets.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think it's very unintellegent, and quite rude in fact, to peddle the nonsense that the use of those awful vevezulas as something part of the South African culture, and since they are hosting the WC they should be allowed to use the. Well, a good host would consider his/her guests, and not subject them to what they like. I mean, I like Jimi Hendrix, but some of my friends do not, but they know I do. Spo if I invite some of these friend to dinner, I do not subject them to Jimi Hendrix, and expect them to say" oh well, he like JH and it's his house so thats ok". After such disregard for people around the world who enjoy the various different atmospheres that different nations creat, I hope never again FIFA foolishly award such an event to such inconsiderate hosts.

  • Comment number 29.

    Now then,

    Thanks for the comments so far.

    AJBullet (Post 10) - you're quite right, there were six goalless and 1-1 draws in the first round of group games. What I'm saying there is that it made for a very exciting set of fixtures. I thought the group stage heated up very nicely indeed.

    antineorevolutionary - appreciate that.

    I should also make it clearly that I am not blaming the South African people for the empty stadiums. The buck stops with Fifa and Sepp Blatter, who was determined to bring the World Cup to Africa but continued to use the same sort of ticketing system that worked in Germany - when so many fans who could afford to shell out large amounts were in close proximity and the global recession had yet to strike.

    As for the vuvuzelas - they certainly divide opinion. As a few of the above comments prove.


  • Comment number 30.

    JSMITH - are you in SA now? At every game and fan park Ive been in its 90% the foreign fans using and blowing the vuvuzela and not the locals. Also, as many other readers have said, its much more fun with them at the venue and much harder to stomach when listening on tv and radio. Inconsiderate hosts? The locals raised money for some fans to buy tickets in Jhb, our cousins drove some USA fans all over CT for goodwill and to show them around. Ask fans who are there how they being treated and how hospitable the hosts are being and you may find yourself surprised at the positive stories.

  • Comment number 31.

    Well done Paul. Thanks for not being too Anglocentric. Cheers.

  • Comment number 32.

    Some strange choices here. Maradona maybe entertaining but because of the wrong reasons; he is is just an idiot. Myself, and many of my friends will be supporting Germany beacuse of this. More seriously how can a stadium that cost over a hundred million with no future use be described as a "good thing?" I thought this was the kind of waste of money that both the Olympics and the World Cup were trying to avoid. What about the so called legacy? The money could have been invested in more useful and appropriate things than an "attractive stadium."

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    My highlight so far is the Slovakia v Italy game. The second half was full of goals, drama and tension. It was great to see an underdog competing in their first World Cup as an independent nation triumph against the holders and go through to the round of 16. What makes it even more remarkable was they were average at best in their opening two games. The unpredictable nature of football makes it beautiful.

    My low point was Black Sunday. Surely it is now time for video technology in football! When will football wake up from the stone ages and join the real world? Technology should be used to help referees make key decisions. Why not give each team at least one appeal per match on goal-line incidents, offsides and penalty decisions only. I think we should at least try it in pre-season friendly tournaments and see if it works before we dismiss it and say the game doesn't flow. There are enough delays when players feign injuries, surely an extra 30 seconds per decision won't make that much difference.

  • Comment number 35.

    Mexico "gave" us that mindless wave.
    S. Africa has now inflicted on us the vuvuzeala.
    God help us in 2022!
    The other point that needs to be made is that the referees are supposed to control the game in such a way that the stars of the game can shine.
    At this venue THEY seem to want to be the main focus!
    Anyone from F.I.F.A. reading this?

  • Comment number 36.

    I am an ordinary South African. I state with absolute certainty that at reasonable prices(which they generally were) and with appropriate marketing and sales strategies every game of the World Cup could have been sold out. The responsibility lies entirely with Fifa(and lets just throw in that oaf Danny Jordan who should have known better) who confused and ridiculously complicated the initial purchasing rounds and mismanaged and mismarketed the sales of tickets that eventually remained unsold. By the time tickets were available over the counter me and most of my friends were utterly bemused, confused and disorientated by the whole process that we ended up spending our money(we live from month to month) on other things and found ourselves regretting it once the cup was in progress. Proper information and encouragement in the few weeks leading up to the cup would have sold the tickets. After all attending a World Cup game, whoever is playing, is a special once in a life time experience for most of us. As a wise South African has said: Fick Fufa

  • Comment number 37.

    Entertaining blog, enjoyable read.
    I would love to attend a tournament, as much for the experience and culture as for the games so really enjoying many of the blogs around these parts.
    Fingers crossed that Holland vs Brazil will spark a rush of top-quality matches and high-scoring entertainment. That said, we've had some shocks and big performances from the so-called lesser nations.
    Good - '56 games over 19 football-filled days', with perhaps the best yet to come.
    Bad - Lack of top-drawer performances from the 'world's best' players, Messi aside.
    Ugly - FIFA missing the chance to make a real difference - surely better balls could have been made locally.
    http://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 38.

    Plastic vuvuzelas? Traditional african stadium music? Oh please.

    That's like saying the 'hilarious' rendition of all the ringtones on a teenager's phone is the traditional music of a London bus.

  • Comment number 39.

    Samuel Etoo speaks excellent English.........maybe he just didnt want to speak to English journalists

  • Comment number 40.

    Oga, my broda Kaita! What happened to you O!

  • Comment number 41.

    9. Jesus the Teddy Bear wrote:
    Personally I think if we ever host it again we should use 10'000 loud speakers each pumping out the annoying rattle at 130Db's for 90 minutes every game and just shrug our shoulders and say "Hey its part of our culture"
    ______________________

    But "10'000 loud speakers each pumping out the annoying rattle at 130Db's for 90 minutes every game" isn't part of your culture now, is it?

    If it were, you'd have a point - you'd even have the right to do it.

    As it's not, you don't have a point, just a grudge.

  • Comment number 42.

    I saw Frank Lampard with two vuvuzelas on alighting at Heathrow. Importing some fun to England, I guess. Vuvuzelas will be around for a long time after the 2010 world cup and I wonder how Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, Nou Camp or Anfield will sound next season without the vuvuzelas.

  • Comment number 43.

    38. John M wrote:
    Plastic vuvuzelas? Traditional african stadium music? Oh please.
    __________________

    Would you prefer natives in skins dancing topless, waving spears?

    Culture evolves. Welcome to the 21st Century.

  • Comment number 44.

    Maradona a great man? Great men don't cheat in the game or w2ith drugs

  • Comment number 45.

    This was not the first time that mr. Larrionda made such a gross mistake.

    In October 2004, Brazilian striker Adriano scored a goal, the ball went nearly 1 foot beyong the goal line, and Larrionda didn't see it.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 46.

    #38 has a point you know. A number of Cape Town locals I spoke to were trying to pedal the idea that the vuvuzela originated via the Whale Crier of Hermanus (which would have meant we'd have got a looped version made from Kelp), but that's clearly poppycock. According to Wikipedia (perhaps a more reliable source), the vuvuzela dates back to 1965 at best - bugger all traditional about it in other words.

    And despite my earlier assertion that the atmosphere at many of the games would have been dead if it weren't for the vuvuzela (due to the lack of foreign nationals attending and many of the locals at the game being slightly more interested in Rugby or Cricket), it's a horrible 'instrument'. It's basically a loud monotone horn made from very cheap plastic and acrylic paints. So the good news is that we can look forward to it being phased out once the oil reserves have been depleted.

  • Comment number 47.

    "As for the corporate areas, speaking purely on anecdotal evidence, I would say that occupancy has been way below 50%."

    What you say here is sad. Corporate hospitality kills atmosphere.. cut the numbers and subsidize cheap seats for the locals who actually love football..

  • Comment number 48.

    As an European immigrant in RSA, I had been awaiting this world cup very eagerly and after seeing all the games in Cape Town (with 2 to go) I can say that I am very impressed with this WC so far (I had no doubt SA would pull it off handsomely but I am still impressed).
    Vuvuzela: like everybody else , I hate it on TV but it is different in the stadium, it genuinely bring athmosphere. Having spent years watching Marseille play in the Velodrome, I must admit I prefer the chants (but then club football crowds are more organised). That said the last visit with my son was horrific : the amount of insults and profanity thru the game was unreal (god damn people this is just a GAME). I was also present during WC98, and hats off to the english supporters they are the only chanting crowd. Brazil_holland was almost hilarious: 3 brazilians with drums, a few bikinis and the rest of the supporters praying in absolute silence (very bizzare indeed)......I was expecting more. WC crowds include lots of neutrals(except for host countries game), the vibe will never be the same as a league game: that simple

    Empty seats: well as mentionned in a previous post above, the stadiums are much bigger than in Germany(for example FIFA needed only 45k seats for a 1/2 in Germany, 60K this time), attendance has only been superior in 94. There is an additional reason not mentionned: FIFA allocated (and for free) tickets to each and every person employed for in stadium buildings. A vast number have never been informed of their rights(by their employer , often shoddy labour brokers)or have simply not collected their allocation.

  • Comment number 49.

    No wonder stadia are half empty when 50 seats at the Dutch v Denmark game were allocated to ITV pundit Robbie Earle! Does every pundit get 50 free tickets for every game?

  • Comment number 50.

    42. Banter1 wrote:
    I wonder how Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, Nou Camp or Anfield will sound next season without the vuvuzelas.
    ________________

    I love the vuvu in SA and think it has made the WC memorable, but I'd rather it stay there.

    I know how you feel, however - I arrived in England in 1998 after 12 years or so in South Africa. My first Premiership experience was one of shock - no vuvuzelas filling the stadium with the ebb and flow of excitement, just tuneless howling 'fans' on terraces chanting braindead abuse at their opponents. (And yes, the vuvuzela was around long before the plastic version became popular in 2001.)

    Hey, I got used to it quickly. I realized that my reaction was all about my own prejudice, that the English football fans were NOT brainless savages succumbing to their baser tribal instincts, but ordinary footie lovers enjoying a day out, often with impressionable kids in tow.

    And now the singing and chanting of the European fans sounds great to me, even witty on occasion. And if you stay away from the stadiums, you can focus on the football, which is getting better each year. You can't hear the words on TV anyway, so it's not so bad.

    As I said, I'd rather not see the vuvuzela take over here in Europe/UK - I don't think it would work. There is no history to it here, no tradition of blowing kudu and other horns on significant occasions, no history of making your own horn to take to the stadium along with the other paraphernalia, etc etc.

    Of course, if the vuvuzela conquers the world, we'll all get used to it. But I doubt it will happen.

  • Comment number 51.

    27 and 36 are absolutely correct to point the finger at FIFA for the empty seats. In addition to all the other basic marketing mistakes they made, Sepp & Co. failed to understand that in Africa, the internet is used by a tiny percentage of people. And a tiny percentage of the few people who do have internet access are comfortable with buying anything online, let alone football tickets. One day, someone will write a full account of FIFA's disastrous handling of this World Cup. If it hadn't been for the pride, passion and sheer determination of our country, the whole event could have been very difficult. FICK FUFA or Splatter Blatter! Take your choice.

  • Comment number 52.

    There has not been a decent World Cup contest since it became known as the World Cup. When it was known as the Jules Rimet Trophy, and the likes of Pele and Garincha played, every game was exciting

  • Comment number 53.

    The Radio2000 commentary has been absolutely hilarious!!
    We've had Jermaine "Defew" playing for England and Ghokan "Ilner" / "Inler" / "Isler" playing for Switzerland. We've had the "Jabulani evading everyone" - no that is not the name of a player, but the name of the official World Cup ball. The ball really does have a mind of its own!!
    On Monday night the Dutch were "finding" momentum (or was it the Slovakians - I don't exactly concentrate the entire time I'm listening, it's impossible). The list is endless!!
    There should be an entire blog (make that an entire book!) dedicated to the gaffe's made during the commentary.

  • Comment number 54.

    46, glowkeeper wrote:
    #38 has a point you know. A number of Cape Town locals I spoke to were trying to pedal the idea that the vuvuzela originated via the Whale Crier of Hermanus (which would have meant we'd have got a looped version made from Kelp), but that's clearly poppycock. According to Wikipedia (perhaps a more reliable source), the vuvuzela dates back to 1965 at best - bugger all traditional about it in other words.
    ___________________________________

    Not sure how reliable wikipedia is - lots of nonsense on there. But if 1965 is accurate, I'd be impressed that it goes back that far.

    One thing often forgotten is that the vuvuzela is a black football tradition, not a white one. This is South Africa, remember - before the world cup, 90% of whites would never have been to a local fooball match, or watched it on TV, or even heard of this thing 'vuvuzela' (most white South African football fans, a minority compared to white rugby and cricket fans, follow European leagues, not the local league).

    But when is a tradition a tradition? Football (as we know it) itself does not go back that far - only 150 years or so in England, less elsewhere.

    Don't know how long it has been popular in Africa and South Africa, but CAF is only about 50 years old, and many see the growth in popularity of football in Africa as having gone hand in hand with the independence of the African states.

    If true, football, especially as played by black people rather than the colonial expats, is quite a new thing in Africa. Anyway, (analogous with religion), if only a few people do it, it's a fad, if millions do it, it's a tradition. Which means the vuvuzela is definitely a South African tradition, and it may yet go global.


  • Comment number 55.

    Some of my highlights:- was written over stages and in a diary style so forgive me if has not come out clearly in this post as I have cut and pasted it and some of the earlier activities and dates are taken out.

    Anyway the next major point was the opening game. We decided the best place to watch was at the Soweto fan park. We were not disappointed. We got there are 10h00 in the morning to make sure we were not locked out (it also helped to provide plenty of beer imbibing time). 50 000 were eventually let in and it was not crowded or cramped and beer was easy to get. There was entertainment all morning until the opening ceremony and for the final twenty minutes before kick off we had K'naan (wave your flag song fame) as a surprise guest artist. We sang the longest extended version of this song ever – amazing spirit with flags waving and folk dancing everywhere. Obviously the game was also another high. At one point all the crowd was jumping together (not dancing; but jumping and stomping – I’m sure the earth shook – it felt like it. There were camera crews and news stations from all over the world and noticeably lots of Aussies and Germans. I was even interviewed by a German Telly station – not sure which one. When we left after the game there was about 6 impromptu street parties we could have joined. At each major intersection we were stopped by a moving roadblock of people who sang and danced around our car for a couple of moments before parting and allowing us through and then repeating the performance for each car behind us. What an incredible day.

    Needed to recover after these few days; so we took it easy and watched the Nigeria/Argentina match at Sandton Fan Park. A local game – so there were lots of Nigerians. We chilled with the fans and had some casual beers. All in support of South Africa’s world cup.

    Onto Tuesday and our first live match – Argentina vs. S Korea at Soccer City. Wow – this is an incredible experience. We got to the park and walk early (about 4 hrs) before the game; but had packed chow and beers so we had out own party as the fans began to arrive. It was fffffreezing by the way. Had a jol going to the stadium. Met a bunch of Dragons (that’s right dragons) and a band (led by a Korean looking fellow that must have been 90yrs old); but hell were they lively. Al the flags draped around the stadium and the Argy fans made it amazing. Took us about 45 minutes to get through the traffic after the match. No problems at all.

    Fan Park Centurion – was the next stop for Bafana Bafana vs Uru. This was as close as we could get to the game as we didn’t have tickets but thought if we all blew our vvzelas loud enough we could cheer on the Boys just down the road. Being a holiday we made a day of it watching footie with the various fans at the park on the grass of Centurion until our game. We couldn’t sit though when PJ Powers popped out and whipped everyone into a frenzy with all the old hits. Was again ffing cold. They make them tough in Pretoria; we found two locals that arrived with only flags painted on their body during the evening. I have photographic proof; although I am not sure if they are still alive!!

    Saturday was Cameroon vs. Denmark at Loftus – Go Cameroon; they didn’t disappoint with the football; just the result. I had fans from Iran sitting in front of me (can you believe it). There was also a batch of Turks and Scots at the game. A large group of Danes insisted on standing, chanting and dancing in support of their team throughout the game. The local security would politely come out and get everyone to sit and as soon as they were gone the fans were back on their feet. This exercise was repeated regularly – without any harm of hassle; much more to our amusement. At one point the security did a ticket check and tried to get the fans to sit in their designated chairs; but a I suspect 200 odd Danish surnames was challenging and they kept moving around all the time anyway. He gave up. As we left there was a large group of us with fans in full voice exiting the stadium together. We walked past a large contingent of security and a whole lot of Danish fans suddenly broke away as they recognised them. They dashed over and there appeared to be much hugging and hand shakes and lots of laughter all round. Good on the security for not being harsh when it wasn’t needed and good on the fans for the great spirit they showed that was not malicious.

    Some rest and work must have occurred in amongst all this; because all of a sudden it was Tuesday and we were packing the car for a trip to Rustenburg (Mexico-Uru). Big day for our boys too. We posted a sign on the back window of our car which read “Free Tequila – condition: shout for SA to beat France 3-0 and Mexico to beat Uru 3 –0.” We stopped at some of the Ultra’s along the way and we had plenty of takers. Our Mampoer was also sampled liberally at first and then with caution. We found a local Bosveld pub (resplendent in ruby supporter kit for lunch) a few kms before the stadium on a back road. Mother delicious steaks (R50) and plenty beers. It was strange to hear football being discussed in plateland Afrikaans. The World Cup is even there. The game was tense. I estimated about 20 000 Mexicans at the stadium. They made a racket until the half time score went up. At 2-0 and 1-0 it was on. We all dashed for half time liquid to calm our nerves and then the few thousand South Africans made a huge noise. Rumours of a goal were cheered – more glum looking Mexicans; we hit the post I heard. It even sounded as if we were 4-0 up at one stage. We cheered some more. Then France scored and the Mexicans went bossies. Exhausted after this one. We got onto our park and ride bus with a horse; yes that’s right a horse, well a Mexican in a horse costume anyway. He seemed to be the official cheerleader for fans on our bus and kept us entertained for about an hour. We met a Mexican fellow who came out here last year for his honeymoon. We dragged him back to the car to celebrate with some Tequila. He found more friends; but they refused to touch the Tequila with a worm in it. I wouldn’t either.
    We found two lost looking souls as we exited the car park. Young Mexican fellows who had missed their bus back to Rustenburg. We gave them a lift (they sang all the way as if they had won); although none of us knew exactly how to get to the News Café (where they wanted to go). In town we stopped a car full of Mexicans and after they jabbered away we followed them for a while until we were all lost again. They stopped a Metro police car and they drove ahead of us with light on through the robots and stop streets until pulling up in front of the Keg; where they indicated we should go. Good on the Metro cops. We found the rest of Mexico was already resident there and a cross between a Mardi Gras and Lang Arm sokkie was underway. Unbelievable. Their friends were eternally grateful for the safe return of their buddies and this reflected in the volume of drinks we consumed. They bought dinner; we bought drinks. They recommended we crash at their hotel; but we finally got away around midnight. Not before they insisted on giving us their Mexico shirts ($100 worth of shirt). Would not take it back.

    Am trying my best to recover before seeking out another world cup adventure. Every foreign visitor has reflected positively on their experiences with the South African people so far (and not just the drunk and obviously happy ones). I guess we are the treasure.

    Viva the World Cup; long may the party last and the spirit be retained. Perhaps the World Cup is going to stay in South Africa after all.

    Had a breather before the saga continued below:-


    A challenging weekend – definitely fitness is starting to tell and injuries are mounting (strange that they are mostly head injuries)!!

    I learnt two really important facts this weekend in our endeavours to support the World Cup;

    Did you know that when your average South African kits up as a Brazil or Portugal fan that they look just like a Brazilian or Portuguese Fan? Or perhaps we have a lot more Brazilians and Portuguese visitors in the country than I thought. It was mates football weekend. Starting on Friday with the abovementioned clash at Melrose Arch. Traffic was like opening day; except that every store keeper in town without tickets to the match was dashing to Melrose Arch for kick-off. Got overtaken by some Argentineans in the left hand lane on the way there. Do they drive on that side of the road or have we taught them?
    Didn’t see much of the game, but what a crowd and what a superb atmosphere and what a strange place to view it from – the balcony of a 5 star restaurant. Did you see what they charged for Tequila? R 25 a shot; tasted like fun though. Amongst all the finery, expensive cutlery and the bottle of Tequila they still owe us; we got to wave our flags and blow the war instruments. Got interviewed by a telly channel called winkball (something to do with Supersport). Has anyone checked it out as it sounds x rated (winkball!!!); am worried.
    Great fun all in all.

    Second fact. There are actually knowledgeable and pleasant Americans out there. What a great bunch of guys and gals we met at the other ‘fan park’. Melrose Arch has two giant screens with the second one being in the original Melrose Arch open area that I know. The first match was at the Kia fan stage and in the Piazza. An area of the Arch that has appeared out of nowhere. Back to the match – Chile and Spain I think. Anyway, this is where the weekend’s first head injury seems to have occurred. There was a lot of beer on the table and it never seemed to finish. We must have spent a good 8 hrs in and amongst the restaurants without eating a morsel of food. Must remember that one for the coaching manual as far as head injuries are concerned.

    We lumped our spent carcasses on the couch for the rest of Saturday. Rising briefly to cheer on Ghana (Go Ghana Go) and then regretting it afterward as our shouting caused much pain. Was worth it in the end as the Black Stars triumphed. Although I felt sorry for the Yanks; particularly the fellows we met the day before.

    Sunday suddenly appeared. Felt refreshed and it seemed like a great idea to watch the clash at a Fan Park. Referring to the coaching manual this time though, we started with lunch on Sandton Square. I thought it would be a good spot to a get some of the fan vibe, as it tends to be a gathering place before big games. It was exactly that; piles of Mexicans and a horde of Argentineans were having fan war (singing; chanting and jeering contests) all over the square. A large Brazilian contingent (confirmed Brazilian visitors) attracted the most attention though. Their loud songs, in what seemed to be Portuguese; elicited much mirth from the 4 or 5 TV crews filming them; but even more impressive was the fact that they all were wearing Bafana Bafana shirts and these were being displayed to viewers on the other side of the cameras in their respective countries. Big up Brazil Fans for your support of SA and Bafana Bafana; even if our colours are similar.

    The Sandton fan park was pretty full for Eng – Ger. I guess around 8000 people. Massive support for Germany; Sjoe I was surprised at that. Even the English fellow behind me who didn’t luckily swap his tickets (Mex –Arg) for Bloemfontein was fairly quiet throughout. Plenty of images of cheering fans shouting ‘Deutschland, Deutschland’ and waving the Black, White and Yellow. It was now getting cold and having given time for the traffic to depart after the game and consume a last beer; we trudged of in direction of the exit.

    That was when this happened:
    Second head injury of the weekend approached– Fan parks have reduced beer prices to R 12 and even have happy hour now. But even worse – drinking large volumes of cheaper beer through your Vuvuzela is a pile of fun but attracts lots fans who will attempt this feat at a quicker rate of knots than you. Someone decided to stop at the beer tent and what ensued was a fabulous evening with ‘local fans’. The three or four African fellows ahead of us had just purchased a large round. Unfortunately they hung around to watch our Vuvuzela trick….and by the time they walked out all our beer and theirs was finished. Watch out for a new cultural activity in a neighbourhood near you. It’s the quietest use we have yet found for the instrument…that is until the third or fourth one. Then the user of the trumpet becomes louder than the trumpet itself. Three Afrikaans lasses also observed this and decided to join the cross cultural contest. We stayed a little longer than anticipated and met a whole lot more Afrikaans football supporters from the Benoni. Suppose it better than cheering for the Lions.

    Final injury of the weekend occurred when dragging a wounded comrade a few blocks to the car park. Have you ever walked over the highway bridge on Grayston into Wynberg at around 10h00 at night. Would never have thought of this during daylight hours for starters. The world cup has made us braver (ok; so the police presence is working); but I do somehow feel a bit taller today as South Africa continues to be a number 1 host.

    Viva the World Cup; Viva the Football; Viva the Fans

  • Comment number 56.

    Paul....I agree with your assessments. Especially on Maradona...pure entertainment the legend has been. I will not knock him for his personal failings....we all have our demons. And since football is pure entertainment, he is providing it top drawer.

    I have to say, the Cameroon kit rocked! Best kit in my opinion. It was truly awe-inspiring in that Denmark-Cameroon game.

    You missed a category: Which countries gave us some very good individual players but the most awful teamwork: Two come to mind: England and Cameroon.

  • Comment number 57.

    52. joe fisher wrote:
    There has not been a decent World Cup contest since it became known as the World Cup. When it was known as the Jules Rimet Trophy, and the likes of Pele and Garincha played, every game was exciting
    ______________________

    Obviously nonsense, completetely subjective, not worth arguing against. However, it leads to an interesting point.

    I am convinced that the great teams of fifty years ago would get absolutely hammered by even the most mediocre teams of today, due to improvements in technique, strategy (defensive/offensive systems), strength, fitness, etc.

    Pity it's all speculation.

  • Comment number 58.

    I agree with everything except your appraisal of the football, it has been spectacular. Perhaps you are focused too much on England Italy and France and their poor showing. But everyone else is loving the intrigue and great games, and fantastic shots and goals.

  • Comment number 59.

    There weren't 6 goalless draws in the first 16 games Paul, just 6 draws.

  • Comment number 60.

    One of my 'bad things' from this tournament has been Spain's willingness to dive in order to get players sent off. Capdevilla vs Portugal was shameful playacting and Torres v Chile was plain embarrassing.

  • Comment number 61.

    Re 17: it seems from what you say that the WC has generated something very precious for SA and I hope the people work their socks off to preserve it thereafter and take the country to a new level.
    Re Paul: isn't your giraffe stadium in the wrong section? Apart from the design, everything else connected with it sounds very negative to me.
    Re 3: don't worry, all Gooners are illiterate - it comes with the territory (ha, ha, just teasing; some of my best friends are Gooners!) :o)

  • Comment number 62.

    55, Rm wrote:
    _________

    Hey Rm, thanks for that, boet.

    Like being there.

  • Comment number 63.

    Bad refereeing is sadly not new but neither is my pet peeve. FIFA's insistence on having a new, 'official' match ball that most teams just cannot cope with. This one seems to be the worst yet. African teams have been poor to dreadful, cut their allocation *now.* European teams have one more chance or they too will start to lose places. Not vintage by any means.

  • Comment number 64.

    One thing that frustrates and angers me is those English TV pundits, radio and net analysts who keep saying "who knows what would have happened had that goal been allowed"? Forgive me if you're English but come let's be honest do you really think that England played well throughout the tournment to deserve to be in the Q finals?

    1. England may have got that goal but Germany was way more superior than you in all games.

    2. Still, England got another full half to do something and overturn a one-goal deficit. Just one goal for godsake did you forget what Turkey did when they were 2-0 down in Euro 2008 with 15 mints to go??? Let's don't blame referees as much as we should blame our own players. There are many teams who get decisions against them: it could have been a wrong penalty, wrong sending off and a goal that should have been offside which are all part of the game but simply you WERE NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO SCORE JUST ANOTHER GOAL IN MORE THAN 55 MINUTES.

    The problem is not with Capbelo but what did those highly paid eNGLISH footballers do when they decided to represent their country and wear that 3 lions T Shirt? The English fans were more than 15,000 compared to the 4,000 Germans didn't mean anything to them???

    You need players who feel proud to take England forward, just look at the Koreans, Slovakians and even Japanese.

    Anyone disagrees?

  • Comment number 65.

    Re several comments on here about the fans, I have to say that for me, and for the first time ever at a WC, the fans have been the real stars of the show. All the vast array of colour and imaginative costumes, and the sheer enthusiasm and excellent behaviour, even in defeat, have been an inspiration and give me hope for humanity and positive values that those on the pitch, in large part, have been erroding over the years.
    On that note, re 13, you've effectively illustrated part of what's wrong with the English game, not the WC. If refs in England were stricter about dishing out cards, it wouldn't be such a physically dominated competition that is a deterrent to skillful foreign stars (along with the weather, but we can't do much about that). And England players wouldn't get such a shock when what they get away with in England is penalised at the international level.

  • Comment number 66.

    Highlight of the world cup.

    6. England fans drowning out the sound of the vuvzela. Yep , there were a couple of england games in which i heard singing.

    England fans 4 - England overpaid rubbish with no sprit team 1.

    7. The french team and anelkas sending home.

    Disappointments of the world cup.

    No C.ronaldo crying. I was hoping he would cry like a baby when they got knocked out.

  • Comment number 67.

    "I should also make it clearly that I am not blaming the South African people for the empty stadiums. The buck stops with Fifa and Sepp Blatter, who was determined to bring the World Cup to Africa but continued to use the same sort of ticketing system that worked in Germany - when so many fans who could afford to shell out large amounts were in close proximity and the global recession had yet to strike."

    FIFA has been an absolute joke when it comes to ticket sales and I really am baffled by the way they've gone about it. 'Online only' sales for aaaages, technical messups and ridiculously high prices are just 3 of the problems. Im sorry but over £100 to go to ANY game is too much. One recent thing that Ive noticed is that since the tournament has started, the "ticketing" link on the FIFA website was moved from its place on the homepage next to "news, matches, groups, teams" etc and put into a small, drop down menu on the side of the webpage. Now you can find "ticketing" hidden underneath "Kick off ball contest", "fan of the tournament" and "FIFA Fanfeszt".

    THIS IS TOTALLY RIDICULOUS!!!!! Ive lost count of the number of people Ive had to tell that FIFA are STILL SELLING TICKETS on the website. Why they've decided to move the link for "ticketing" and basically hide it on the webpage is beyond me. People are actually buying overpriced, illegal tickets on gumtree when there are normal tickets for the same game available on the FIFA Website!!!!!!!!!

    Am I the only person who has noticed this?? Last example was talking to a Dutch friend last night who is driving up to PE today for the game tomorow. She was upset that a good friend didnt have a ticket, even though the day before on the website they were selling cat3 for the game! How many people dont know about this??

    Argh I had the 'official' face of football so much. The FA, Premier League, FIFA, UEFA should all be sent to Robben Island and lets actually vote in some people who give a sh*t!!!!

    Lol sorry that rant seems to have got a bit out of controil.

    Apart from that, gotta say as a Brit in SA that I've loved the Vuvus and predictably the English seem to be the ones who have the biggest problem with them. Been to a few games and every nation has had jubilant vuvu blowing. The only time Ive seen anything different has been England games. "You can stick yer Vuvuleza up yer a*se" and "Blow that thing again and its gonna kick off" are two examples of us friendly, cosmopolitan Brits embracing different cultures and mixing happily with the rest of the world. Sigh.

  • Comment number 68.

    #64 - England were pushing hard and got caught on the breakaway. If that goal were allowed to stand England could've been a little more patient and not susceptible to German counter attacks.

    Having said that, I do agree with your sentiment that the hoards of English supporters deserve much more commitment from the 11 wearing the shirt on the pitch. I can't quite fathom Roonewy's attitude - something's clearly amiss with the lad. Perhaps he should spend the next World Cup watching from the stands - perhaps he would then realise what it means to ordinary Englishmen, and what an honour it is to represent your country. Then we might just see the required effort.

  • Comment number 69.

    The Bad - FIFA/Match Ticketing Agency

    Having attended all the matches in Port Elizabeth, it has been a shame that the ground has, to date, still not been filled. The noticeable thing within the ground is that the Category 4 seats (ie for South African residents) have been well filled, and the bulk of the empty seats have been where Cat 1 & 2 seats are located. This just goes to show the negative impact on the tournament of the global economic downturn, preventing many foreign based supporters from travelling. I can tell you now that even in the best of times, these Cat 1 and 2 seats would have remained unpurchased by locals as they are way over priced (in a local context).

    The question is why didnt Fifa react and anticipate this with regard to making every effort to fill the grounds? If Fifa really did give all that they could back to the game, they could surely have found a way to give these tickets to local school kids who could only dream about getting a ticket (costing a mere R140, 13 pounds).

    The same must be said for the corporate boxes, which from my viewing perspective in PE have probably been around 30% full, and maybe 40-50% for the England game. It will be interesting to see what gaps there are in the stadium tomoroow, given Fifa have said there are only 500 Cat 1 (ie along the touchline) seats available.

    All that aside, it has been a wonderful experience, and long may the buzz and feelings within the country that it has generated remain...

  • Comment number 70.

    Must say I am a little disappointed with the BBC overall coverage. To find out if a player is suspended and for how long, you have to get on to the Sky Sports channel as nowhere can I find this information on the BBC web site. When you consider how many hundreds of people the BBC sent to South Africa then this really is not acceptable. The guy who has been writing the daily articles from South Africa must have the easiest job in the world. Sometimes two stories only and that's his work done for the day. It says 'updated throughout the day'. Oh yeah!
    As regards BBC TV coverage it is inexplicable that here in 2010 the BBC are not showing ALL of England's games, and only a selected few other games as well. We had to wait for England - Slovenia to see an England game on BBC. What are people paying the licence fees for? This is the World Cup, an event that attracts attention even from non-soccer fans. The main Holland (NOS 1), Belgium and German TV channels show not only their own Countries games but every other game as well. Why do the BBC have to share out the games with ITV? This a a dis-service to the whole viewing population in Britain.

  • Comment number 71.

    forgot to add this to my rant above:

    from the FIFA website:

    "there is no guaranty that demand for Tickets will result in the Tickets being resold. If the Ticket Applicant’s Tickets are not resold, no resale proceeds will be returned to the Ticket Applicant."

    so FIFA may have tickets in their possesion, which there is demand for, but they may not sell them?! I dont understand.

  • Comment number 72.

    Vuvuzela culture? Not at all, since 1975 that not so much apart of culture. The town I live in has only been around since the 60's and is still considered a new town so how does a vuvuzela become apart of culture. Secondly it may not seem that bad on tv but my parent's neighbour's kid has one and my god does that thing get annoying after 5 mins, and I live in a town with an airport and they fly fairly close by but that is bareable. Vuvuzela's are a pain, you know what the Irish do, you use to hear the odd fog horn at our national sport but it was just continous annoying noise, they used to try get tunes to it.

    The most enjoyable game I watched was any England game and not just because they lost ( I had them tipped for the semi's) but because you could here them singing above the vuvuzela's now that is an atmosphere.

  • Comment number 73.

    Re: vuvuzelas. I admit they have a certain degree of annoyance. If however, they end up in Premier Legue grounds then consider this; what would you rather hear, an annoying loud drone or some of the vulgar and at times downright sick chanting that passes for 'banter' and 'atmosphere' at many of the grounds? Me? I'd rther hear the vuvuzelas.

  • Comment number 74.

    Ifeel really sorry for you, people. Maradona is the BEST. I know you are depress because of your pour experiences in all the latest world cups. I hope you cheer up for Germany, because Argentina is going to be the winner, and we do not want loosers with us

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm not sure whether this is a high or a low but some of the playacting has been shocking - Keita of Ivory Coast and Capdevilla of Spain immediately spring to mind, but there have been plenty other incidents of blatent diving and feigning or exaggerating injury.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    To Rupert, post 73

    Sorry mate but thats the most stupid thing anyone has written in here.

    Bad chants exist, this is true but they are not sang for the ENTIRETY of EVERY MATCH.
    They come in patches for 20-30 second here and there.

    Vuvuzelas make a horrible noise that goes on before the game, during the game and after the final whistle.

    Actually, if you ATTEND live football matches every season I do not believe for one minute that you would prefer Vuvuzelas to chanting.

    Now, if what you are saying is you would like to hear vuvuzelas for a few minutes during every match you attend INSTEAD of a particular chant that may be overly offensive - well thats a different thing but that wont happen.

    If they are allowed at football matches idiots will blow them for the entire game.

    Go to a match and actually hear them at a stadium then you can make informed opinions/comments about them.

  • Comment number 78.

    Surely some british people are bitter. It's hard to accept that RSA made you eat humble pie. This article contains nothing but negativity towards the 2010SWC host country and its people. You should concentrate on your bid for 2018 and let africans enjoy their moment in their manner. Why do you want us to behave like europeans? Ask anyone who is in RSA now, the atmosphere is electrifying.Those empty seats belong to you the british who failed to come because your media deceived you by telling you that you'll be raped and killed in RSA.

  • Comment number 79.

    Re Nthlarhi - spot on mate - I tracked a lot of the pre-tournament press coverage in the UK, and it was mostly negative and even paranoid. Where are the follow-up stories telling of how safe and passionate and fun this World Cup has been? The football has been average but fans don't travel all this way for 90 minutes game time - they come for the whole experience wrapped around the matches - and that is where South Africa has exceeded everyone's expectations. I just want to soak it all up and use the energy to make more positive about my country going forward.

  • Comment number 80.

    Nthlarhi, steady on. The article is not devoted entirely to anti-SA/African opinion. Yes, the critics are still out there and they always will be. But keep some perspective. If you find it difficilt, read posts 4, 11, 17, 20 and 55 to name just a few.

  • Comment number 81.

    #78 - I think you'll find that the English came in far far greater numbers than any other nation.

    I have been in SA since the start and have enjoyed myself immensely - indeed the country has embraced the tournament and made it a fun place to visit.

    But it's still a scandal that more black South Africans haven't been allowed access to the stadiums (through extortionate ticket prices), as the games would've been an even greater spectacle. The only time I have seen anything 'African' going on inside a stadium was when England were losing 4-1 to Germany - there was something like a tribal dance going on behind the English goal - it looked fantastic and really created a 'local' vibe! If only I wasn't wallowing in self-pity at the time I might've enjoyed it!

  • Comment number 82.

    I agree with most of those sentiments Paul, the last round of group games especially the Italy-Slovakia game which was excellent. As well as Chile who have really captured my imagination with their great style of football.

    However I have to say there have been a fair few other disappointments you haven't listed:

    1) How disgustingly commercial the World Cup has become, your colleague Dan Walker done a great piece about how one women who lived a stones throw away from the Nelspruit stadium, and before the World Cup was making money by selling food that she made from her home, to workers at the stadium and others in the area.
    However once the World Cup came around she was prohibited from selling food because it wasn't an official sponsor of FIFA.
    FIFA make a stupid amount of money from these tournaments without giving any of it to the local community in South Africa.

    2) I appreciate the great football that has been served up by Brazil and Spain, but once again at a world cup play-acting and histrionics has been prominent from both those sides. What I found most disgusting was the incident where Spain played Chile and Torres tripped himself up, stayed down for ages, while in the meantime Spain scored, Pique was doing the disgraceful thing of trying getting the Chilean player and influence the referees decision, when the ref branded the red card, Pique celebrated the decision, and then rushed to cheer the goal with his team mates who had just scored, disgusting.

    3) England - Absolute garbage.

  • Comment number 83.

    I listen to the first half of the games on Radio 2000 on my way home from work. My favourite comments were "He is running his socks out" and "oh my word! Its over the line....it's a corner kick.

  • Comment number 84.

    Fact 1: Mbombela stadium will be fully utilized, if you do your research well you will know that Mbombela stadium will be used by a PSL team called Witbank Aces, so the stadium will make money every week.

    Fact 2: You will moan and compalin about the vuvuzela and no one will hear you, they are coming nice and slow into Europe, so I guess you will hate watching football now and forever.

    Fact 3: Don't blame South Africans for empty seats, blame FIFA for always saying the tickets are sold out.

    Fact 4: South Africa 2010 world cup, the best world cup ever, if you don't believe me i suggest you get the numbers (attendance, sponsor feedback, TV viewers, flights, accomodation, money spend etc)

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    'Go to a match and actually hear them at a stadium then you can make informed opinions/comments about them.'

    I will and I'll take my vuvuzela with me! Have you been to a match with vuvuzelas blowing yet? If not, I can't see that your comments are any more informed than mine.

  • Comment number 87.

    just wanted to add that although im having an almighty moan today about FIFA and Blatter in particular, I have thouroughly enjoyed the WC and will be sooooo sad when it comes to an end. South Africa and its people have really showed the world a great party, the hospitality has been second to none in this incredibly beautiful and diverse country. Thank you very much to the people of South Africa for an AMAZING few weeks! :)

  • Comment number 88.

    I read all the comments with enthusiasm and excitement that the first WC hosted on the continent of Africa could create such a buzz. My disappointment is that Paul in his blog did not mention the as a part of the "good things", the overall organization and the warmness of the great people of South Africa. As an African form Liberia the country that produced one the greatest soccer players ever in George Weah, I am overwhelmed by the momment and excuse my prejudice, I just want to say thank you to "mama Africa" for presenting a different image of the continent so far.
    Re #55 RM..Thanks for your comments. As for the vuvuzelas they are very pleasing to my ears, and I think they are one of the reasons why everyone including my non-soccer loving friend here in the US will remember "South Africa 2010". Bravo to all of you!!

  • Comment number 89.

    What? Maradonna, "... the great man...", is "...the biggest show in town", you say? I couldn't agree more: what you're saying is that he's a circus act, right? He's a jester, straight out of the days when dwarfs and freaks were used for amusement. He's no great man, mate: he'a an uncouth fraud, a clown, a narcissist and a poseur! Great man? Pele is a great man, Bobby Charlton is a great man, but Maradonna? Little Maradonna is nothing but a great big bladder of hot air.

  • Comment number 90.

    Anyone who wants to find out more about Maradona i highly recommend the film "Maradona" by Emir Kusturica. People might recognise the name - he made the cult classic "Black Cat, White Cat".

    Its a great film for any football fan or anyone with a fleeting interest of Maradona. He is one of the few 'journalists' who has been able to get genuinely close to the man for an extended period of time and gives an honest opinion of all that he sees.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 84 'Matts'
    Fact 4: South Africa 2010 world cup, the best world cup ever

    What planet are you on, exactly????

    This world cup has been terrible!! The football has been sub standard and I still fail to see what South Africa has brought to the party!! Nevermind... I'm sure Brazil will be exactly the same... Same old Fifa im affraid.

  • Comment number 92.

    One of the worst thing is the disciplinary system. How on earth can two yellow cards in separate games justify a suspension from playing football!? It really is absolute lunacy, especially as some referees like to dish out cards like confetti. It should be 3 yellow cards for a suspension.

    Also, why aren't players allowed a right of appeal, but referees can highlights incidents which may get a player retroactively suspended? If these rules were part of a legal system it'd be the most corrupt in the world. For example, Kaka having to accept his punishment for doing nothing wrong is an utter disgrace.

    Not to mention the fact camera reviews are still not in place. I'm not talking about goal line technology, just a look on a replay.

    It would improve the sport so much.

    The worst thing this world cup has done (or best, whichever way you look at it) is show FIFA up for being the odious federation it is. A backwards, dictatorial organisation that only cares about money making. It is utterly sickening.

  • Comment number 93.

    How disappointing it is to read a blog and so many respondents with such a negative attitude. If Maradona really is the lead positive point, it really makes me think how much time you ahve really spent immersing yourself into the spirit of this World Cup.

    Additionally, this is the second highest average attendance ever for a World Cup. This is even more remarkable when one takes into account the average wage of a South African and the corresponding percentage of their montly salary that it takes to buy a ticket. Also, the Ghanian gear was fantastic in how different it was, bucking the trend of typical one colour predominant jerseys.

  • Comment number 94.

    The first round of group matches were largely terrible, it has to be said. I think in some peoples minds we need some truly exceptional matches to bring the tournament back to parity.

    Personally I think the standard of pretty much every team that came to this WC has been so high that many results have been tight, Portugal-North Korea excepted. The disparity between countries in world football is getting smaller. Lower ranked nations know what good tactics, determination and a solid defence can do.

    It can be pretty uninspiring watching match after match of hard graft and dogged defending, but walkovers get boring too. At least it creates debate. For example, I hated the football Greece played to win the Euros, my friend loved the exceptional defensive displays.

  • Comment number 95.

    4thlion/91: 'I still fail to see what South Africa has bought to the party,' you rage. What a fantastic comment. Hmmm. Let's see. Country, airports, roads, railway stations, bus systems, stadiums, stadium controls, stadium catering, training grounds, fitness facilities, hotels, guest houses, cafes, bars, restaurants, broadcasting facilities, media centres, security infrastructure, VIP protection, supporters, colour, atmosphere, excitement, fan parks, hospitals, special courts, bespoke legislation, pre-tournament concert, opening ceremony, Archbishop Desmond Tutu... And on...And on... All this and we've had to put up with people like you and Sepp Blatter. Cut us some slack, buddy!

  • Comment number 96.

    Worst thing?

    IT'S FAIR to say that it's not just ITV that has taken some stick for some of their coverage at this World Cup, particularly the coverage of the tournament's lesser lights. The BBC have been getting it in the neck as well. To give you an example, what I'm talking about here is things like Alan Shearer's self-proclaimed "expert analysis" that amounts to a conveyor belt of cliches and the kind of insight that even a child of six would describe as laughable.

    Before the Algeria versus Slovenia game in Group C, Shearer seemed to be speaking for the entire BBC panel when he said, "Our knowledge of these two teams is limited." Limited! What the former England striker was saying was that he hadn't done his homework, that he hadn't spoken to any of his vast array of contacts in the game, hadn't tapped into the BBC's huge research machinery, hadn't even bothered, seemingly, to peruse the internet for some background on Algeria and Slovenia or even flick through a newspaper or a magazine. Shearer was content to sit in front of the cameras and tell the viewers that, really, he didn't know much. Hardly a revelation to those of us who have groaned our way through his anodyne commentaries in the past, but embarrassing all the same.

    Why do the BBC deem that acceptable? Why is Shearer not taken aside and told, 'Listen, if you can't be bothered doing some research on this game then get lost'. It's a different, and entirely more professional story, on radio where the wonderful 5 Live present their football coverage in a proper fashion. How does Shearer (but not just Shearer) get away with opting out like that?

    And here's another one. The Beeb got carpeted by some viewers for their treatment of that Algeria game. So what happened before the kick-off in the match between New Zealand and Slovakia? In a six-and-a-half minute introduction just one player out of the 22 on show was given a name-check, and here is how it happened.

    Lee Dixon: "Slovakia have got some decent players, Hamsik, the pick of them. Young player, plays on the left side."

    Gary Lineker: "He's at Napoli."

    Lee Dixon: "That's right."

    Alan Hansen (chuckling): "Somebody gave you him, by the way."

    What Hansen meant, I think, was that his colleagues must have been fed the Hamsik reference by another party, that they couldn't have come up with his name all by themselves. It's not like Dixon or Lineker produced a dossier of facts about Hamsik, a file of information on who he is and where he has been. All they did was mention his name and the fact that he was rather good. That was it. Hansen seemed to think this was worthy of a gently-mocking put-down, as if the other two were some kind of class swots. As such, he was almost revelling in his own ignorance.

    There's a lot of this going about, on BBC and ITV. The level of punditry is cringe-making. It's lowest common denominator stuff. Patronising and insulting, much of it. Emmanuel Adebayor's mobile phone started ringing in his pocket live on air the other day. His respect for the viewers didn't even amount to him making sure the thing was switched off. Edgar Davids has been unintelligible, Gareth Southgate hasn't said one interesting thing, Kevin Keegan has been nothing more than a cheerleader for England and Andy Townsend has been his usual bland self, trotting out statements of the obvious with a rapid-fire gusto. "I tell you what, for me, he's gotta hit the target from there!"

    And you are paid how much, Andy?

    Clarence Seedorf was in the BBC studio the other night for the Italy versus Paraguay match and he was making a point about the positive impact an Italian substitute had made on the game. He was referring to Antonio Di Natale, winner of more than 30 caps for the Azzurri and the leading goalscorer in Serie A in the season just gone, but Seedorf couldn't remember his name. Hadn't a clue. Neither did the blokes alongside him, Hansen among them. "He was the No 10," said a smiling Seedorf, who then reached for a team-sheet on the desk for help before realising that it was the Dutch team-sheet. "That's no use," he laughed. Indeed, Clarence.

    Hansen thought this was priceless. "That might be highlight of the World Cup so far," he trumpeted. The programme ended and still nobody had figured out that the No 10 was Di Natale. You would hope that behind the scenes the BBC producers were holding their heads in their hands with embarrassment, but you wouldn't bank on it. Of course, in the squirm factor stakes there are many challengers. Mick McCarthy claimed just before kick-off in the Argentina versus Nigeria game that he'd only just realised that the Juan Sebastian Veron that appeared on his team-sheet was the same Veron who'd played for Manchester United and Chelsea. Quite a statement of ignorance, that.

    In fairness to McCarthy, he does have something to offer in his reading of the game. It's just that there is so much that makes you wince in between. What we're getting a lot of from both sides is glib nonsense, poor jokes and crass stereotyping. Adrian Chiles is flavour of the month on ITV, but his popularity is not what it was. It wasn't his fault that ITV HD pressed the wrong button at the wrong time during England's opening game and missed Steven Gerrard's goal, but Chiles has been distinctly unconvincing in the anchor role. He wants to be the funny man when the job demands gravitas. He wants to throw in one-liners when he should be attempting to spearhead a proper discussion about a match.

    His introduction to England's game against the Americans was mortifying. Wielding a baseball bat and sending a message to America, he said, "Just stick to your sports, why don't you?" Chiles was also seen patting a burger, adding: "We really love Americans, just wouldn't eat a whole one." He made himself look like a clown.

    Keegan's summing-up: "It was a very, very good performance, good enough to win any game." This classic piece of Keegan claptrap should have been jumped upon and ripped apart for the nonsensical garbage that it was, but it sailed through pretty much. Chiles doesn't do confrontation – neither does the BBC – and it's a terrible weakness. There is no edge, no passion. It's all so pain-stakingly harmless and dull.

    ITV needed somebody with a backbone to turn around to Keegan and say to him, 'Okay Kevin, what you're saying there is a load of junk. Explain how getting a draw against a team of journeymen like America is very good'.

    There are many days ahead when our intelligence will be insulted by "expert analysts" who speak to us like simpletons who've just staggered home from the pub. We could do a lot worse than hitting the mute button from here on in. Or getting the commentary off the radio.

    That was by Tom English. Can there be much disagreement?

  • Comment number 97.

    Afternoon,

    A real shame that some people seem to have got the impression that I am not rating this World Cup. I have been impressed with the organisation and infrastructure, especially considering how many horror stories there were kicking about before it started.

    A lot of locals have asked me what I think of the country, particularly after finding out that I am English. They reckon that the British press unfairly judged their country months before the World Cup had started - and I think they might have a point.

    Much of this concerns crime but there has been a very high and visible police presence. I hope this continues after the circus leaves town.

  • Comment number 98.

    Paul,

    Can you explain to us how allocation of seats for pundits works? Apparently, Robbie Earle got 50 seats at the Dutch v Denmark game. Why?

  • Comment number 99.

    Referees want to be praised for the good jobs they do but not criticized for the bad ones? They should move with the times and demand the aid of technology.

  • Comment number 100.

    Very good reporting there, Mr Fletcher.

    But I would also like to add to the lows:

    - the Refereeing has been poor throughout the tournament, not just those 2 awful decisions against England and Mexico, but throughout. The Ref's decisions have been inconsistent - such as the 2 yellows for Kaka.

    - there were a couple of reports of the several Japanese fans who, on at least 2 separate occasions, were mugged by a group of men after 2 of their country's matches. It seems the SA government and FIFA are downplaying the news of the parties and general life situations outside the stadiums. We certainly do not seem to see enough of what's happening in the streets, in comparison to the festival atmospheres we got to see all over Germany last time in the Fan Mile areas.






 

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