12 June 2010

Football Time

World Cup. Haven’t I already overdosed of you, you… World Cup. No, I haven’t is the answer, but there are some aspects of you, World Cup, that rather baffles me to only too generous extend.

I find myself very torn in between the beauty of the people’s spirit here and things such as the emotional content of the opening ceremonies and on the other hand the pre-reformist Christian spirit that FIFA has tapped into when it sells the seats in the football heaven. More money you spend, the closer you are to your god of Adidas ball and the men in Puma shirts who kick it with their, I don’t know, Nike shoes having just taken off their Apple iPods when the Mercedes buses drove them to… need I really continue. Oh, did I say that to get fit apparently they had to drink lots of Coca Cola because if you ask Coca Cola it’s very healthy and good for you. Of course the facts of the real world disagree with this view point, but when you advertise with cartoons to children then what does it matter. Get them when they are young and you’ll have them for life. Actually, why not give some complimentary cigarettes on the side.

Here’s the other top five things that came to mind from this whole thing, and not all of them are negative. Actually, already did away with my pet hate of the whole circus so no fear.

1. The level of analysis in sport. Have you ever seen four analyst sitting around the table in South Africa talking relatively objectively about a news story? I don’t mean politicians and partisan lobbyists and spokespeople, but people in the know looking equally all sides of the story attempting to leave us with something meaningful and concrete to take away from it. No, you haven’t. None of us have. In football this seems to be unquestioned. I am jealous. I wish there was money, because that’s what it comes down to, in talking about things other than off-side in a critically engaged manner.

2. People like to complain. Everyone thinks that the apparently endlessly witty observation; vuvuzela sounds a bit like bees is a fruit of their creative sketch writing. And then there’s the ball. The official ball, that’s like a beach ball I hear people saying. Mind you most of these people haven’t much been kicking it, but they’ve been told about it by the analyst. And there are more of them out there than there are social media gurus. Let the vuvuzela be. It’s here so make peace with it. Write to FIFA if you’ve got problem with the ball; the organisers didn’t put it together.

3. Don’t worry. Relating to the previous point; don’t worry, vuvuzela really grows on you. I like it.

4. Temporal zeitgeist. Initially I thought that without a ticket to stadium, World Cup to a local person is merely a massive month long traffic jam. I was wrong. The spirit of collective excitement is contagious and I am glad to have witnessed some of it.

5. SA stand up. I enjoyed the opening ceremony and was incredibly proud of the input of local artists in the concert the night before. South African artists swept the floor with their international colleagues. Imbongi (Xhosa praise singer) to kick things off (excuse the use of the word ‘kick’ in this context) was a perfect choice – and I really mean it. Then to continue to celebrate Africa and the rest of the world. Brilliant. It was an emotional moment for me to see Hugh Masakela, Lira, Black Jks, TKZee, Lira and all the rest of them representing. Of course I was very happy to see Femi Kuti and Khaled there as well.

So there. Good doesn’t exist in a vacuum without bad and of course it would be incredibly naïve to assume that this event would exists without the corporate sponsorship. Without the money power the only footballers we would know by their name were the ones we played with in the park. Does it have to be the same sponsor for the World Cup that also supported apartheid and so many other atrocities? Apparently the answer is yes, I am afraid. But all in all my torn mind is leaning towards enjoying what there is to enjoy, but never to let that overlook the dark side.

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