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South Africa's unique characteristics will outshine the negatives

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Piers Edwards | 16:54 UK time, Thursday, 25 February 2010

After months of negativity, it was incredibly refreshing to hear some positive attitudes towards the World Cup this week - as over half the coaches for June's finals trekked to Sun City for a pre-tournament Fifa workshop.

Perhaps it was fitting that in South Africa's most famous casino resort, once a den of in iniquity nicknamed Sin City due its controversial past, the chat turned to the rarely-spoken enthusiasm for Africa's first World Cup rather than the regular doom-laden diet.

The latter is largely fuelled by both South Africa's terrible crime levels, with an average of 50 murders per day, and the ubiquitous 'Will they be ready?' stories that precede every major championship in a not-quite-as-developed-as-we'd-like location.

But is South Africa really that foreign a destination?

Fabio CapelloEngland boss Fabio Capello arrives at a workshop for coaches in South Africa

When I asked the Australian delegation if they had any security concerns, they almost laughed in my face. Thankfully, they politely grinned instead while explaining how their sports stars have been coming here for years without any problems.

Indeed, their cricketers came over for last year's IPL and Champions Trophy and there was great irony in both tournaments' relocation to South Africa after security concerns in their original host nations - India and Pakistan ( and wasn't it strange how South Africa's crime issues were ignored when the IPL changed venue?).

"I don't have any feeling of negativity about the World Cup," says Australia's Dutch coach Pim Verbeek. "This is my eighth time here and I've always enjoyed coming as a tourist. I don't think security will be a problem because if everybody does as they should, and stays away from certain places, it will be a special World Cup - no doubt about it."

Since such pleasantries are normally delivered to the local media, they are often dismissed as mere lip service, but this was a private conversation - and Verbeek is not alone in banging Africa's drum.

"I'm expecting a great tournament, in fantastic stadiums, with perfect security," says Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, who was here for last year's Confederations Cup. "I'm not expecting anything negative."

Perhaps revealingly, my question - which enquired about global pessimism - was translated by the interpreter as 'English media negativity' (although the German media run us close). And it was interesting to see the storm close-up as Fabio Capello rubbished tabloid concerns over the Bafokeng Sports Complex, which is now confirmed as England's base.

"I'm very happy," the Italian said. "They've improved a lot since the last time: the pitches are good and will be better by June, the hotel is really nice and the gym and medical centre will be ready in two months. The facilities are fantastic."

While English-led questions about Bafokeng dominated Fifa's news conference on Tuesday, it was interesting that not one Brazilian journalist, and there were a few there, asked about the five-time champions' hotel - whose completion date is as late as England's. In fact, the endless focus on Bafokeng drove Fifa's urbane General Secretary spare.

"If the question is 'could we host the World Cup tomorrow?', the answer is 'no'," Jerome Valcke snapped. "Soccer City isn't ready [and] we have 700,000 tickets still to sell, but we will be ready."

Behind the scenes, Fifa is frantically striving to ensure South Africa 2010 takes off. But by and large, the concerns are being dismissed one-by-one, as the magnificent arenas in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg (and the fun of Nelspruit) are already showing, not to mention the refurbishments of several airports.

Soccer CitySoccer City in Johannesburg will host the 2010 World Cup final

So instead of the constant negativity, shouldn't there be a celebration of the fact that a once-pariah state is now excitedly preparing for a global invasion? And that football fans who were unable to watch their national team until 1992 (Fifa barred South Africa for nearly three decades because of apartheid) will be cheering on Bafana Bafana in stadiums bedecked with all the colours of the Rainbow Nation?

Germany coach Joachim Low certainly thinks so.

"I see the happiness in the locals' eyes and their sense of excitement," he said. "They can't wait for the World Cup and South Africa will do everything for this World Cup - that's what I am feeling."

As former Manchester United goalkeeper Gary Bailey will tell you : "If you measure the World Cup by its time-keeping, you're going to be disappointed ."But visiting fans will have a great time as long as they a) use some common sense and b) don't expect South Africa 2010 to run as smoothly as Germany 2006.

For South Africa's organisational abilities were recently shown up when Bafana Bafana's training venue had to change due to a lack of refurbishment, meaning the first 'qualified' nation for the finals may be the last to select their venue - despite their five-year head start. "This should not be happening," said South Africa's distinctly-unimpressed coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.

And though there will be problems - most notably with transport, administration and logistics - Africa's unique flavour, colour and characteristics will outshine the negatives (which I was reminded of this week as, in a personal broadcasting first, a zebra came to check me out while filing a report just outside Sun City).

What is more, many locals fully expect the World Cup to change their country in a similar fashion to Nelson Mandela's release, the first democratic elections in 1994 and the unifying rugby World Cup victory a year later - and that's ignoring the football fans' excitement at seeing Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney in action.

"It's a gift from God to have the World Cup," one fan told me with heartfelt emotion this week. Like many, he's bought his Bafana Bafana jersey - despite his low salary - so that he can wear it on 'Football Friday', a day when the nation unites by wearing the national strip (while fans are also learning the tournament's official 'Diski' dance).

After 80 years of the World Cup, Africa - whether some Europeans like it or not - deserves its chance to host the finals: and had you decided against coming here because of the horror stories (rather than financial restrictions), when the media changes its tune from negativity to fawning praise as the World Cup begins, where would you rather be?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I can't wait! I have tickets to four games, accommodation and flights sorted and an itinerary that will allow me and my 16 year old son to combine a trip to Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift with a community development visit a safari and hopefully some white water rafting. Add to that the kindness of strangers I have never met. It is going to be brilliant

  • Comment number 2.

    ..............oh and did I mention we have accommodation 15 minutes from the England training camp?

  • Comment number 3.

    This is a terrific article Piers. Participants, officials, visiting fans and visiting media attending The World Cup should consider helping the South African organizers and citizens in any way they can to make the event as successful as possible. Here's a few suggestions - plan ahead, travel light, make sure all documents are in order, try to be patient and as Gary Bailey said, use some common sense.

    To Dave Sarley and son - Have a great trip gentlemen! I wish I could be there with you.

  • Comment number 4.

    my only prayer is that, these western critics do not create the problems they're predicting.

  • Comment number 5.

    Unless CNN was lying, it was the Australians that last year started undermining the South Africans – even suggesting to FIFA to change the venue to Australia. I wonder if the Australians would have been this provocative if the Apartheid regime were still in power.

    As for the Germans, they always have great difficulty adjusting to non-strict, non-regimented environments. In Europe they and the Dutch frequently complain about the Spaniard's relaxed approach to life, so it is no surprise that they are complaining about the South Africans. South Africa has its own way of solving its problems and who cares if it doesn't meet the German standard -- must the South Africans become as boring as the Germans?

    I often tease my German friend about his love of Jazz: Could the mechanical and very precise Germans (or even Europeans) have invented jazz music? From an outsider looking into Jazz music, it can look indiscipline, unorganized, unstructured, purposeless, leaderless in comparison to the mechanical or robotic nature of orchestra music: with the almighty conductors, divas and acceptable behavior of the audience: dress code, no movements or talking or singing or coughing except at specified intervals; and instruments played strictly according to the book – not one second earlier or later.

    Two completely different approach to music and yet fantastic results. To understand Africa, one must start with jazz music. South Africa will no doubt deliver the goods when the time comes.

  • Comment number 6.

    Very insightful(rather than inciteful)piece Piers. Was in SA last June for the Confeds Cup and must say it was a brilliant experience. The locals loved their football, and it was fantastic to mix and share their enthusiasm. Not a hint of trouble, other than getting out of stadium car parks. Transport will be the bugbear, but I'll be back again this year to follow the All Whites(NZ) once more and am very much looking forward to it. Hope the zebra didn't munch any of your notes.

  • Comment number 7.

    Please publish this article on the front page of every newspaper in the United Kingdom. Yesterday I believe The Sun published photos of the England camp from a year ago re-fueling the negativity surrounding the world cup. The camp is pretty much ready and the hotel beautiful. Why is it that the media cannot focus on the positive?

    As an Englishwoman living in this country it saddens me to see pervasive negativity surrounding the hosting of this world cup. I have attended many of the international sporting events held in this country - the only hiccup being that England (in whatever sport) usually lose.

    Buzz off, stay at home and watch it from your living room

  • Comment number 8.

    I am bemused by the assertions that South Africa is safe for tourists.

    One of my friends (SA national) was recently murdered in SA and the other badly injured. They had a brick thrown through the car windscreen and then while dying were robbed.
    When the police and ambulance arrived, all money, bags, jewelry and even some clothes had been stolen.

    Don't even think of telling me that SA is a lovely safe paradise.

    Anyone that can get out is getting out. I pity my poor friends that are left!

  • Comment number 9.

    At Rob Hastings: People like you must learn to understand that murders are not only happening in South Africa. An incident like that could have happened anywhere in this sorrow full world. South Africa is part of the world believe it or not. Please read this article again and maybe this time around you'll understand what SA is all about.

    In case you did not know, also see the FACTS below:

    Rugby world cup-tick (Winners), Cricket world cup-tick, IPL (short notice)-tick, Africa cup of nations-tick (Winners), Rugby super 14-Tick (Blue Bulls-Winners x2), GP A1 motor racing-tick, world summits-tick, Best tourist destination-tick, no terrorist attacks (Unlike your so called 1st world countries)- tick, ATP tennis-tick, Lions tour-tick, etc.... What more do you want from Africa?

    Ke Nako my brother, it's time to Celebrate Africa's Humanity and unfortunately for you it is happening in South Africa. You can waste your time spreading your personal opinions. The FACTS don't lie. You feel it?

  • Comment number 10.

    If it's anything like District 9 I'd stay well clear... there's opportunists everywhere in the world, I usually find that if you've street smarts and apply common sense then trouble doesn't usually find you! On a footballing note, it isn't very reflective of our sport if we don't give each and every country a chance to show what they have to offer the rest of planet. Opinions count for nothing - Experience is Everything. I'll be there if I can afford it.

  • Comment number 11.

    I wish all the best for the world cup. I have tickets to see England and look forward to it.

    However, I'm amazed at the blinkered views on crime that you have.

    You say the players aren't worried about security and they've been coming here for years... Of course. They'll have top security with them at all times. And those previous holidays will have been to top resorts. That's enclosed game parks, not in the city near townships.

    Peoples concerns with security are not for the players but for the travelling fans.

    I live across the border in Botswana and travel to SA from time to time and know that it is not safe. Especially Jo'burg.

    I'm not saying that people should not go to the world cup. What I am saying is they should not be told that all is fine and its ok to wander around thinking they're safe. That is irresponsible journalism and leading people into trouble.

  • Comment number 12.

    For the majority of people, like myself, as long as the games kick off on time and there's no problems with the TV transmission then it will be a great world cup. I am ready if the world cup starts today. The public transport to my local pub has been running for years and the refurbishment to lounge was completed before Christmas so bring it on, I can't wait.

  • Comment number 13.

    One thing each tournament brings is local idiosyncrasies and eccentricities. Each tournament therefore should be judged strictly on that. This is not to say certain standards must not be adhered to. Not at all. However, I see FIFA knowing exactly what such challenges entail by the time they agreed to award South Africa. I don't see this as a major problem.

    How about dwelling quite a bit on such milestones as Africa hosting THE World Cup for the first time? While non-Africans might care less, it is more than a big deal for us, a sense of pride at how far we've come as a people. How about the first time, the Confederations Cup notwithstanding, Africans and the world at large will see a collection of global megastars as Gerrard, Torres, Rooney, CR7, Kaka and company all here in our oft forgotten continent?

    One thing I urge FIFA not to do is ban vuzulelas. Noisy as they might be to Xabi Alonso, they add local flavor to such a historic occasion. If the Swiss can be allowed to showcase their cowbells or the Dutch their clogs, why not African music, albeit a bit discordant, but still treasured by local connnoseurs of this beautiful game.

    I think there'll be teething problems here and there - come on, if Japanese giant Toyota has problems with its engineering who can't - but overall it will be successful. South Africa must be given a chance before being judged or further pressure heaped on the country.

  • Comment number 14.

    Eitha, I'm Gugu Madlala from South Africa.
    Got to say that I'm glad to read a positive story from europe finally.
    We will put on an amazing extraveganza for you all. Sure we have crime issues, and an imbalanced society, but we're African and the spirit of uBuntu guides us. So it's safe to say that all the visitors will be safe. After all you are coming from 1st world europe, so I take it you're clever enough to not walk around drunk alone in the ghetto at 2am! In the same breath, I advise that you venture into our Kasi's ( townships) during the day time and experience all of Mzansi Africa!!
    ps. Watch us make the semi's

  • Comment number 15.

    I agree that security concerns have been overstated. As have some other issues.

    But, come one, this is Africa after all.. and if you've not been before, it DOES come as quite a shock. (And not just in negative ways).

    For example, although I've never been to SA but I've been to a few countries in the north and I was overwhelmed by the utter chaos of the traffic, and of places like markets and streets.. the sheer weight of humanity! And yet, to be fair, I was equally amazed by the utterly relaxed way in which Africans seem to deal with this!

    Fantastic.

    But very different from Europe.

    I think that point deserves some coverage and this is one place it could be covered.

    Give the fans who are going to travel a few insights into what it is that makes the continent a bit different...






  • Comment number 16.

    Not sure the sub-heading for this piece on the front page is quite right: "Piers Edwards on why South Africa will in 2010"

    I completely agree with the article's sentiment though. Africa deserves its chance.

  • Comment number 17.

    Good post, good to see that there are some positive things after all about South Africa and its hosting of the World Cup.

    But the South Africans should not rest until everything is in place and I am sure that this World Cup is going to give a unique African experience.

    Those looking for a perfect country - I am afraid South Africa is not one of them - but I also don't any perfect country out there.



  • Comment number 18.

    Looking forward to it! Got tickets to some awesome games.

    To any visitors, South Africa is as close as you'll get to a 1st world country (in Africa). Just be street-wise and you'll be just fine.

    I'm sure many tourists would have been here before... its NOT like we’re a condemned tourist destination with no experience in these type of events. Soak in the cosmopolitan cultures and have a blast with us!

  • Comment number 19.

    South Africa is one of the most friendly country in the world. Every articles agains this country is Propaganda. I was visiting Germany Wolrd Cup - and what a mess. They do not have enough food, enough drinks and beds fot visitors.Only Germans was good for officials and the teams but for visitors their was unfriendly and some time very root. The hotels and BB was very unfriendly and the security was not so good how their pretend to be. For this please people stop talking about South Africa come and see. The negatives characteristics not helping any body.

  • Comment number 20.

    TThank you for the positive comments.

    The amount of negative and factually inaccurate press coverage in the UK & (as you correctly pointed out) Germany has been staggering.

    To give an example, the German press were running a story about the launch of the Cape Town stadium only selling 20,000 tickets in an 80,000 seated venue as an example of the poor ticket sales....Neglecting to mention that there were only 20,000 tickets (ie. it sold out) as it was the first part of the process in getting the stadium it's safety certificate!!!

    South Africa has a proud tradition of hosting major events and despite the negative press I expect it to be a massive success. I will be in Green Point cheering on Uruguay (Anyone but France) on the 11th of June with the world watching as Africa hosts the greatest show on earth!

  • Comment number 21.

    may i just say that comment number five about the Germans is absolutely hilarious! It had me in tears of laughter! that's coming from an Irishman living in germany.

  • Comment number 22.

    Cant wait!! Finally some sanity prevails. Don't believe the negative press in the UK. If there was any crisis believe me it would be all over the South African Press, and yet nothing..zilch, nada. I have already taken a tour of the spanking new and VERY impressive Durban Stadium, which has hosted several games already. All I see are the finishing touches being put in place. The excitement is tangible, and the prevailing mood seems to be that this is OUR party - we don't really care about the doom-sayers. This is Africa's time to shine and we are going to have one hell of a party. I dare you to join us....you will not regret it!

  • Comment number 23.

    At 06:21am on 26 Feb 2010, Rob Hastings wrote:

    Anyone that can get out is getting out. I pity my poor friends that are left!

    Actually Rob, I have been living in London for over 6 years and in that time, 90% of my friends that were here, have gone home. There are just 4 of us left and I am EXTREMELY pleased to say that I am moving home too!

    I am very sorry for the loss of your friend, it is true that SA has many many problems but unfortunately there's no place like home.

    Thanks Piers for wiritng a great article, you've captured it perfectly - it will not run perfectly by any means, the transport sucks a bit but it will be colourful and vibrant and brilliant. I am only sorry that I won't be there to see it but hopefully one day we'll get the olympics (I am sorry I'll miss 2012).

  • Comment number 24.

    Excellent blog Piers!

    Fellow bloggers I happened to grow up in South Africa during the apartheid years and I must confess that I had worriers when I returned in December, having been away for almost 20years!

    I thought back to when I was a child and I judged the world “foolishly” by what I watched on TV and the things people said.

    I felt exactly the same about visiting South Africa, again.

    Too my surprise it was not like what people described, I didn’t feel threatened as I thought I would.

    It had great weather (as always) beautiful people and I could spend an afternoon describing its positives.

    It’s not quite the 3rd world country YOU imagine.

    Sure, one must be careful where you go at night, but as you all know that is the same here in England and anywhere else in the world.

    But most importantly don’t accept what I have written.

    Go see for yourself and enjoy the football. South Africa has put in a lot of effort into the staging of the World Cup.

    YOU MIGHT BE IN FOR A POSITIVE SURPRISE!

  • Comment number 25.

    While the author has some valid points, he clearly is seeing the World Cup from a different view to most fans.

    I bought tickets to England's 8 possible games in 2006 and didn't get the cheapest category for all games. They cost just over £360. This time, I have tickets to 6 potential England games (all excl US) and I managed to get the cheapest category for each - it cost me £760 - more than DOUBLE the price of 8 tickets last time. This is scandalous!

    The internal air fares and price of tickets to SA are also very inflated.

    Fifa's approved agent Match has sourced c 90% available accomodation in SA and is selling it with a 30% mark-up and a minimum of 3-night stay.

    The accommodation costs in SA are typically c triple the rates for summer (and this is their winter), even before Match's 30% mark-up.

    Pim Verbeek says "I don't think security will be a problem because if everybody does as they should, and stays away from certain places, it will be a special World Cup - no doubt about it." Very insightful - hopefully at some point, someone will tell everyone which places we all have to stay away from.

    Hopefully the common sense Gary Bailey suggests we use will mean fans avoid the areas Mr Verbeek tells us to avoid.

    It seems as though any issues will be the fault of the victims.


    It's all well and good people who get chauffeured everywhere (& their travel arranged for them) saying how great it will be, but what about the man on the street?

    How do you fancy sourcing & paying for your own accommodation, travel and tickets and then telling us how it'll be fantastic, Mr Edwards? No, thought not.


    This will be my last World Cup. I have been taken for a mug once too often.

  • Comment number 26.

    On another note the comments about the Germans are nonsense!

    Pure BRITISH MEDIA HYPE!

    The war ended long ago, it’s unfortunate that many ignorant people will criticize the Germans just to feel better!

  • Comment number 27.

    I agree, like everybody on this blog, with your sentiment Piers but wonder what the fuss was about all along.

    There is nothing more irritating than media tearing the reputation of a country apart just because it happens to be in an unpopular continent.

    For me, nothing captures the beauty of Jo`burg than the picture you have shown of Soccer City with Jo`burg in the background. South Africa is a beautiful country and I for one can not wait till kick off, when, hopefully all the negativity will end.



  • Comment number 28.

    With regards to transport

    Take Soccer City

    - Upgraded rail station adjacent to the stadium
    - Two major BRT stations north and south of the stadium, along with BRT routes to the stadium
    - 24,000 parking bays
    - More concessions, toilets suites than Wembley Stadium
    - A new transport interchange
    - Connected by a pedestrian bridge to the International Broadcast Centre
    - High speed rail link from the Airport to Sandton
    - Rail link from the City Centre directly to the stadium

    Take Cape Town Stadium

    - New airport bus link from the expanded airport directly to the City
    - Inner City bus loop connecting the 30,000 beds near the stadium to the stadium shuttle
    - Fan walk connecting the Central Station to the stadium
    - 37 high capacity IRT buses (156 and 120 seaters) linking the City Centre (2km away) to the stadium
    - A bus every 30 seconds to 1 minute to the stadium in peak demand
    - Glass IRT stations at the stadium and in the City Centre
    - Dedicated lanes from the FIFA hotel, Westin Grand, to the stadium
    - Adjacent to the V&A Waterfront
    - BBC studios within walking distance of the stadium
    - 5,000 parking bays (1,200 inside the stadium)
    - 20,000 bays in the City Centre
    - 25 park and rides at rail stations across the city
    - 4 major park and ride (bus) across the City

  • Comment number 29.

    Point being...transport may actually run on time. The first and second test events at Cape Town stadium, with a bus shuttle from the City Centre ran like clockwork.

  • Comment number 30.

    My comments as someone who travelled to Cape Town in January for the Test Match was that the city will struggle to cope with the influx of tens of thousands of mainly European football fans- there are not enougb bars and not enough beer pumps, the public transport system is woeful (a rapid transit system was abandoned late last year because of costs and the opposition from local can drivers) there are hardly any buses linking the parts of what is an incredibly spread-out city. The stadium at Green Point, while in a fantastic location on the sea front and stragetically placed to look good with Table Mountain in the background, is inaccessible except by road.

    Just to break down some of these issues:
    the stadium is not close to the main motorway connections, nor anywhere near where the black population (ie the football fans) live.

    Group organsiation- Teams are being moved around all the cities rather than being based in a group centerd in one location so fans will fly in (if they are lucky given the low number of internal flight slots) probably on the day of the game and out again a day or two later - they won't have time to see much of the surrounding countryside nor will they have time to contribute much to the local economy before the fly out and another 30,000 fly in.

    Sustenance- So you will have tens of thousands of thirsty lads looking for quick food and drink in a city where neither are easily available. The Cape Town nightlife may be great by African, even by South African standards but even the restuarants are few and far between. Few bars and even fewer places where alcohol can be bought (I don't think the Government likes its huge underclass to have access to alcohol) so the usual city-centre pre-match experience will be restricted to fending off the beggars.

    Security- the beggars are the ones i feel most sorry for, i can see them being chased off/battered by large groups of disgruntled football fans wondering a) where they can get a pint and b) how they get to the ground. Security is very tight in CT and how they will react to thousands of hordes beating up on near destitute locals will be interesting.

    Transport- as mentioned above public transport equates to 3 passengers and one driver per car. For an 80,000 match that means about 25,000 cab journeys each way (slightly less if people use the mini-vans that take township workers to work and back. Not many tourists take these. Gridlock won't descibe it. So get a hotel either at the Waterfront or in Sea Point if you can. They are best for bars, have least hassle (esp. Watefront which is almost a gated community)and walking distance from Green Point.

    The fanzone. This is a square near the station and haunt for beggars/pickpockets. My advice is take up smoking cos they won't leave you alone unless they get at least one cancer stick. Concrete, no booze, so good luck sitting there all night if you dont have a ticket!

    Its Cape Town i feel sorry for; i think that some of the problems laid out above will make for an atmosphere of disgruntled visitors and restenful locals. Its a hard and edgy place but i am not sure it can handle thousands of thirsty fans.

    Sorry to sound negative.....

  • Comment number 31.

    The post by Capadonna is rubbish. I for one can't wait for SA as I will be there for 10 days and 3 games. I am concerned about SA for all the reasons listed but it would never stop me from going. It was extremely difficult locating accomodation and travel arrangements in November...even before the draw came out. I think the crime aspect is being overhyped considerably. I flew over to Switzerland (one of the "safest" European countries) for the Euros and didn't have accomodation (I was a cheap student), ending up sleeping in the rail station and getting robbed. And that just goes to show that idiots can be victims of crime anywhere, not just Africa or SA.

  • Comment number 32.

    @ Capadonna: Are you sure you were in South Africa, maybe you were in the wrong country and got a little confused? I can't believe some of the claptrap you just stated.
    1) The Cape Town rapid transit system (IRT) has not been cancelled. Where on earth did you hear or see that?????
    2) The Cape Town stadium has a main road (actually 2) within 100m of it - get a map and take a closer look before making such a silly statement.
    3) How can you say there isn't enough transport for 80000 fans when the stadium only seats 68000???
    That's just a sample of some of the rubbish you've just stated. Get your colonial blinkers off and get your facts straight.
    @ the BBC: Wow, a vaguely positive article about South Africa, my head is spinning from the shock.

  • Comment number 33.


    World Cup Football is for fearless minds. Let's wish the organizers, teams and their fans a jolly good time in South Africa.


    Interesting article by Piers Edwards. Thanks.

  • Comment number 34.

    The rapid transit system has not been scrapped at all. In fact, today it received a R3 billion boost from treasury.

    Here, a huge gallery of the progress. They signed off on the buses in Brazil this week. http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/irt/Pages/Gallery.aspx

    The match shuttle for the 40,000 test event worked like clock work, even without the rapid transit system in place yet.

    The team doing the pedestrian and transport demand modelling have worked on other major events, including major venues across Europe.

  • Comment number 35.

    As for bars, clubs, entertainment. Cape Town is the cultural and entertainment capital of Africa.

    The 1.7 million tourists annually to Cape Town seem to disagree.

    It has the most accommodation of all host cities, the province has 36,000 more beds than Gauteng, double the amount of beds in KZN.

    Even in places that actually do have little e.g. Polokwane, put up a beer tent, get lots of beer, and keep the sun coming.

  • Comment number 36.

    These are some of the comments from some blogs with regards to the temporary bus shuttle for the test event at Cape Town stadium:

    "Do not bother going near the stadium in your car. Park at Artscape or near the Civic Centre, queue for a bus where they tell you to, and off you will go, as they arrive, endlessly, in rotation. I have never seen anything this streamlined in this country. Or any country. "

    "The whole thing had been mostly glitch-less. In and out without a scratch. The new Cape Town Stadium was holding its own and it appeared it would handle a 70,000-people game without flinching too much."

    "40 000 is a lot of people but it was just so easy to get around thanks to the vast walkways and gate systems, well spaced seating and intuitive layout of the stadium."

    "There was a great vibe in the crowd and the organisation from the parking along the Foreshore, to the free shuttle service in to the stadium was exceptional. I honestly never thought it would run so smoothly. "

    "It was so enjoyable, as a wheelchair user, to be able to use the same approach routes, the same shuttle service"

    "

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm taking my son who is seventeen to his first World Cup and must say I could not be more excited by the prospect. No Scottish participation means that we are supporting our second team, Cameroon (no link other than a love of African football in general and Cameroon in particular) and have tickets for the match against the Netherlands in Cape Town where we will be staying (also have tickets for an earlier game in the city just for the experience).

    We are hoping catch the other games (generally supporting all the African sides including our hosts) in the bars on Long Street for the atmosphere, but as I have said my son will unfortunately be a few months short of his eighteenth birthday, does anyone know whether under eighteens are allowed in Cape Town bars (not drinking alcohol of course)?

  • Comment number 38.

    All the sport events quoted to glorify the forthcoming show piece were in more sheltered environments. What the football will open is venues where safety is less conspicuous and many fans will be exposed to the violent reality of the nation. Let's avoid fooling ourselves and confront what is an established fact. Tourism does exists but at venues where there is generally a high presence of policeman. Further, let's avoid finger pointing or accusations of racism. History be the sole judge. The violence quoted is a fact of life in SA. The brutality and lack of humanity is endemic in SA. Only a mental pygmy would deny this. Therefore allow the natural expression of concern given this country's history. Terrorism has be replaced by armed gangs. Robbery and murder is the national sport. Unfortunately this is not deemed a national sport by civilised nations.

  • Comment number 39.

    Reading some of this it is good to know the bigger centres are making efforts to sort the public transport issue, but how do fans get out to the provinces. ie: games in Rustenburg, Polokwane and Nelspruit? Fortunately, like at the Confeds in 2009, some entrepreneurial locals are providing shuttle services. At the Confeds the car/coach parks were kms away from the stadium and everyone was ferried into the stadium area by minivan/bus. It worked to get in, as arrivals were staggered over hours, but the chaos upon the exit of the stadium was laughable, and that was for low crowd numbers, 25,000 or less. I sincerely hope this has been addressed, 'cos visitors will find the long waits most disagreeable.

  • Comment number 40.

    Just for the record I'm South African and cannot believe some of the drivel that has been written. Perhaps someone will find someting helpful in what follows. Accommodation & transport should be no problem at all for tourists as there are plenty of rooms and I am certain that hotels and other establishments will arrange transport to and from games. Transport within the host cities is plentiful. Long distance transport, especially air travel can be tricky. I suspect that local airlines will be scheduling many more flights. There are also plenty of car hire companies so that's another option depending on distance to be travelled. There are long distance buses traveling the length and breath of the country on a daily basis, some even go to neighbouring countries! Trains are available but I'm not sure about long distance routes. You have the conventional taxi and then you have the 'uniquely South African minibus taxi' which is used literally by millions of South Africans every day. Some travel long distances but most opearte short/local routes. Many of these are for hire directly from the owner or operator and for a fair rate they will get you just about anywhere. I wouldn't suggest a Durban to Cape Town trip (its a lot more comfortable by bus) but Johanesburg to Nelspruit/Bloemfontien or Durban to Johannesburg/Rustenberg etc and you're in business. 600 to 1000 kms travel by road can take between 6-10 hrs, hopefully giving fans enough time to get to a game or rest and get to a game the next day.

    You will also find that South Africans in general, regardless of race are among the friendliest in the world! World cup fever has definitely hit the country with football friday just one of the ways locals are supporting 2010. Many individuals & businesses are spending millions on Bafana and similar 'South African' jerseys for staff to show support for the event as a whole.

    As for crime just use common sense. Many a South African I know PERSONALLY, never experienced a single crime all their lives in this country but was robbed or mugged within 24 hrs of arriving in London & New York!!! Does that make London or New York or any other city for that matter a city of criminals? I think NOT!

    I am certain that EVERY fan will have a fantastic time. Come see the world in ONE country!

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm sure the country is lovely and great culturally, unfortunately, human nature being what it is, there will be some who will go off the beaten track and ignore guidelines. How curious, I am reading a bit on Rio De Janeiro's horrors in Brazil today as well.

  • Comment number 42.

    Im a south African and have never experienced anything horrific just yet. in relation to the midland 20, SA is nothing like north africa. It is far more structured and organised and much of the population lives with the same technology as you in englandif not better. CAPADONNA you are completely wrong. you clearly never went to long street or town where there was enough beer for 50 000 people on the day of the draw. Plus the shuttle service will own. The cape town stadium is awesome and functions amazingly and even newlands is more advanced than most stadiums in england.

    Thanks Piers its good to finally hear some good things about the world cup from england.

    Bafana for the cup naiers

  • Comment number 43.

    Bottom line is that this world cup will go on with or without fans from Europe most of whom seem to live in a bubble and think that nothing good can come out of Africa. If you still think we walk around naked in Africa and that the stadiums are set in jungles full of wild animals, please dont bother coming to SA. Most of the countries who have been leading the anti-SA stance have a very bad history of relations with Africa characterised by looting, slavery, and colonisation. The little they could do now is get off their high horses and support an African country. The world does not revolve around Europe....Yes you might have better stadiums, transport hotels etc etc but that does not take away the right of other countries to host the World Cup. Its a world cup not a European cup. Gosh Europe already has the most number of teams/representation at any world cup and they just seem to want it all. pliz there is a whole world outside Europe.

  • Comment number 44.

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

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm English living in SA (Joburg).

    I think it will be a great cup and everyone here is very welcoming. If you read the Sun (and many other papers) and believe what they write then stay away. The main problems will be financial as FIFA have exploited the situation to the full to inflate prices.

    The stadiums and infrastructure will be ready and are a very high standards. The whole of Africa is proud of this event with justification. Its a great country, fantastic steaks, good beer (especially from Namibia) and nice people.

    For the record I have lost friends both in SA and in other countries. Take care on the roads, as every where else, accidents are a much more likely event then any violent crime.

    Vuvazellas.....now thats another thing entirely!

  • Comment number 46.

    It will be in everyone's interest to be mindful of their surroundings during the world cup in SA. Lets call a spade, a spade. SA has invested a lot in infrastructure and the world cup proper will be a success. However, fans going to SA must be careful. SA isn't Europe or America. Miscreants will take advantage of the situation to alleviate their poverty by stealing from unsuspecting and carefree fans. Acknowledging this as a fact should not be misconstrued as putting down SA. If only the SA authorities had invested the huge sums spent on world cup infrastructure in developing slums, SA will be better off. Come July, some of the world cup infrastructure will become white elephants.

  • Comment number 47.

    @Rob Hastings:

    I am truly sorry to hear of the sad things that happened to your friends - but South Africa needs its people to make it what it can be. I lived in the UK for 11 years and ran two businesses and came back - for no other reason than I felt it the right thing to do. I run a successful business here now and I employ 6 people of differing cultures and colours and we are growing fast. Moving away and turning your back on your home when it needs you, is very sad.

    South Africa will do what it takes and this World Cup will be a relative success - relative to our standing in the world, our economic prowess and most tellingly, the enthusiasm of the host nation. Viva Mzansi!

  • Comment number 48.

    Thank you everyone for all your comments, which have been interesting to read - and good to see some positive ones in there as well.

    Just to address a few of them, #11 (the78sum), I don't think I have said that all is fine in South Africa - as the opening statistic of 50 murders per day should clearly state. Of course it's not wholly safe here but over 10 million tourists do visit the country every year - so things can't be quite as bad as portrayed. As for walking around, that is one of the sadnesses of South Africa, since it isn't the most advisable or common pastime here: in fact, people are so shocked when my wife, for example, wanders down a street alone that drivers often screech to a halt beside her telling her it's not safe - which she finds more disconcerting than the actual walk. But the key is, aside from keeping your wits about you, not to go off the beaten track, especially if you've never been here before.

    #25 (Carlos Small Calves): to answer your question, as an England fan who's watched the national team at the last three World Cups - only attending one as a journalist - I think I should state I took out a fairly hefty bank loan just to follow England in 2002 in Japan, which was a far more expensive host nation than here, and the experience was definitely fantastic, particularly the scenes in Sapporo after the Argentina win.

    #39 (stattomatto). IMHO, the best way to get to such places as Rustenburg, Polokwane or Nelspruit is by road, even though the journeys are going to take far longer than usual. I have to confess to not having checked the car hire prices recently, but this is undoubtedly the best way to travel there. You're spot on about the chaotic scenes seen at the Confederations Cup about getting on buses after games - and Fifa says they learnt greatly from this, which we will all hope they did, because many fans won't put up with the chronic organisation witnessed after some games (and I only used the Park & Ride for Ellis Park matches, so am commenting on those). Transport is definitely a major concern for this World Cup...

  • Comment number 49.

    Piers Edwards - tell them the truth - tell them wants waiting - dont give them bits and pieces to sell tickets!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 50.

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

 

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