2010 FIFA World Cup: Enough Whining and Negativity about South Africa
It started as soon as the 2006 World Cup in Germany ended; "The stadiums won't be ready, there's too much crime, it's too far away, they should be spending the money to alleviate poverty instead." Then the USSF stepped in and said they can host the Cup if South Africa couldn't get ready in time.
The Los Angeles Times comments about 2010 became more and more negative and the British media, particularly the tabloids, printed one sensational negative story after another. The stadium issue was front and foremost—even though their own new Wembley Stadium was completed two years behind schedule.
It became almost surreal when The Sun in Britain printed a story about how a variety of lethal snakes were lurking around the England base at South Africa, waiting to destroy England's World Cup dream. Perhaps the snakes were all supporting the U.S. team.
The head of security for the German team was seriously considering armed guards and bulletproof vests for the players if they ventured beyond the confines of their hotel.
It's no wonder the amount of foreign visitors fell short of expectations.
Despite this, South Africa has succeeded in no uncertain terms. The South African people have united as one—something unthinkable a mere two decades ago—and have welcomed the world with joy and open arms.
Yet the whining and negativity has continued.
While there have been some incidents of crime, there is not the anarchy some expected. The press widely reported one incident concerning the theft of money from two Uruguayan players' hotel rooms, yet they failed to widely report that a police investigation revealed the guilty party was someone from their own delegation.
For some perspective, over 7,000 complaints were filed with the police during the 2006 cup in Germany. No issue of an abundance of crime was reported by the press then.
There have also been complaints that empty seats at some games are marring the tournament. I've watched finals since 1970 and empty seats are an occurrence at every World Cup—especially since the tournament expanded to 32 games. Some of the games are a lot less alluring that others.
The 1994 semifinal between Brazil and Sweden wasn't sold out and tickets could be bought at the stadium right up to kickoff. In 2002, some stadiums were only half filled.
The vuvuzelas have brought on the most complaints and while I admit to being irritated by them, they are not marring the entire tournament as some are saying. Banning them at this point will cause a landslide of resentment that would end up spoiling the games.
South African fans are not the only ones blowing them. They are certainly not the first obnoxious instruments to have appeared at the World Cup.
It's time to sit back, and whether in South Africa or anywhere else, enjoy the spectacle.
The action on the field can only get more exciting and a country that has moved from hatred, fear, anger, and isolation in such a short time deserves its place in the sun.
It's a tribute to South Africans of all colors and creeds to overcome the past and show the world what can be done.
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