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Thursday, 05 March 2009

Soccer World Cup 2010: a damp squib?

I must admit I'm not the world's biggest soccer fan. Why a game where people run around aimlessly kicking a ball for 90 minutes, with the final score often 0-0 or 1-0, has such international appeal, is quite beyond me.

I'm not alone in thinking that soccer is monumentally boring and a game for people with 0.005% brain activity, apparently. Witness the lack of interest shown in the USA compared to gridiron football. Soccer is seriously in need of a revamp in terms of wider goals, or a repeal of the ridiculous offside rule, if you ask me.

Be that as it may, South Africa's ruling ANC regime is apparently furious at the low level of ticket sales and general lack of interest shown in the 2010 World Cup Soccer.

According to a report in South Africa's Times newspaper, 80% of the tickets sold to date have been sold to foreigners. Ticket sales recently started happening online.

The true mystery here is why the cabinet or anybody else is surprised. South Africa is, after all, a third-world country mired in poverty. What did you expect, mister ANC cabinet member? Residents of squatter camps logging on with the super-fast broadband and latest PC's and flashing their Diner's Club Platinum cards in a rush to obtain tickets?

Did the cabinet members perhaps forget that most soccer fans in South Africa are from the poorer sections of the community, with no electricity in their shacks, let alone a broadband internet connection? Even the local discount of 40% off ticket prices still place the tickets beyond the reach of the vast majority of local fans.

Furthermore, people in European host countries like Germany have the expectation that their home teams may do well, or even win the cup. South Africa's pathetic soccer team, the abysmal Bafana-Bafana ("Boys-Boys"), are not even in the top 50 soccer teams in international terms. They have just as much chance of winning the World Cup as Jacob Zuma has of going to jail. International games between these losers and other international teams are often very poorly attended.

Big surprise then that the people who do have money in South Africa are also so apathetic. Many local fans would much rather watch Brazil play Italy than they would want to see the Banana-Bananas being thrashed 4-0 by Ecuador.

Given the international financial crisis, and the lack of affordability of tickets to local fans, do not be surprised if 2010 turns out to be one very expensive damp squib, resulting in major losses and white elephant stadia once the spectators have gone home.



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