South Africa

The problems with this World Cup seem to be neverending. Problems of all sorts seem to be popping up even as the tournament has gotten underway. From the complaints over the ball to the possible banning of the ubiquitous and noisy vuvuzelas to a strike by hundreds of match stewards Sunday night after the Germany-Australia match, it’s like any possible issue, big or small, that can happen is happening. A rash of injuries before the tournament to major stars like Germany’s Michael Ballack, Ghana’s Michael Essien and England’s Rio Ferdinand forced them to miss the World Cup while concerns and criticism over the huge cost of the tournament and crime have continued. I won’t go so far as to say this World Cup is cursed, as this blogger puts it, but it does seem to be afflicted with a lot of problems. Maybe this is the inevitable consequence of hosting it in such a developing country as South Africa. Having been here since before the World Cup started though, I have to say that things seem to be going along quite decently and the patriotism and enthusiasm is very apparent. The number of international visitors may be much less than originally predicted, from a high of 500,000 to constantly decreasing estimate, but there is a good mood here and no major catastrophe has occurred. The steward strike over poor pay in Durban, which saw several injuries and possible arrests, is a warning to the government and FIFA though. Finally, the vuvuzela, as noisy and persistent as its sound or humming is, is quite manageable (I mean I haven’t gone deaf yet, having sat through over 2 hours in a stadium full of vuvuzelas being blown) and does create a unique mood. And at moments like when players first come onto the field or at critical moments, the intensity of the vuvuzelas raises, which creates a definite mood of anticipation and excitement.

A news story from Yahoo has said that there was also a strike action in Cape Town by stadium workers before the Italy-Paraguay game Monday night but they left peacefully though the police had to take over security and fans were kept waiting outside an extra hour. It won’t be good if these wage disputes by stadium staff escalates so FIFA and the local organizing committee had better deal with this carefully.

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