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Shake off the 2010 World Cup hangover with Sepp!

TO:

Federation Internationale de Football Association
Fifa-Strasse 20,
PO BOX 8044 Zurich, Switzerland
Att: Mr Sepp Blatter

FROM:
Gavin Foster

25 March 2010

Good morning Mr Blatter

I know you’re a very busy man, what with checking that nobody makes any money from the World Cup without giving your organisation a fat chunk of it, so I’ll cut to the chase.

Motorsport in South Africa is in a parlous state — apparently nobody’s made any decent money from it since 1652. Still, we hosted motorcycle Grand Prix races at Welkom for six years until the Free State provincial government reneged on payment of R35-million they owed the organisers in 2003. The politicians said they saw no benefit to the people of South Africa in holding a round of one of the most keenly followed sports worldwide in the shadow of their dusty mine dumps. Things started looking up again last year when we lured World Superbike racing back to Kyalami, but a bun-fight over alleged fraud and corruption makes it likely that the series will leave for good after this year’s event on 15th May without a backward glance.

And this is where you and your organisation come in. Bloomberg.com reports that South Africa spent R34-billion preparing for the Soccer World Cup, a competition that lasts but one month every four years and is unlikely to return to Africa for another century. The unwashed masses were brainwashed into believing that they were going to benefit enormously from Fifa’s largesse, so the poor sods who have lowly paid jobs building new stadiums and airports haven’t yet realised that August 2010 is likely to be a pretty grim month for them as they stand in the dole queue. In Durban, the city council even got the ratepayers to pay for a R3,3-billion stadium right next door to the existing world class rugby stadium, and thoughtfully had different coloured patterns painted on the grandstand seats so TV viewers will think they’re all occupied when the cameras swing past. That is sheer genius, and I salute whoever thought of it!

Please bear with me just a little longer. My plan is as follows:

Analyse
We lost the MotoGP series because of a piffling R35-million debt that nobody saw as worth bothering about. It’s no secret that the only reason we took on the Soccer World Cup was so our shakers and movers in politics and big business could dip into large chunks of the R34-billion lying on the table for airports, stadiums, access roads and so on. For top-level motorcycle racing to come back we have to similarly raise the stakes.

Strategise
I propose that you and Fifa approach government and ask to be granted control of motor sport in this country — Motorsport South Africa is in any case an archaic colonial institution that needs to be disempowered. Tell government that once Fifa takes over you intend shutting down all the existing race circuits in the country because they’re unsuitable for world championship events. Kyalami is too hilly, Phakisa is too flat, Killarney is too old and Zwartkops is owned by an Afrikaner who could well be descended from farmers. Tell them that you wish them to put out tenders to construct new circuits to replace these, and we might as well revamp Aldo Scribante, Idube and Midvaal while we’re at it to get them up to scratch. All the new and revamped circuits will, of course, be named after those we see as role models for the new South Africa — Joseph Stalin, Samuel Doe, Bob Mugabe, Jeffrey Dahmer …

We may need to initially present some slightly inflated figures regarding the number of foreign visitors the racing is likely to attract, but these can always be quietly adjusted downwards over a period of months once the contracts have been awarded.

Budget
A major construction company will design and build a new ultra-modern racetrack like the one in Abu Dhabi for about R2-billion. If we allow selected Cabinet ministers and their cronies to submit successful tenders for R3-billion each and then subcontract the work to the people who actually know how to do it everybody should be very happy. The workers who were laid off after the football stadiums and airports were finished will be feeling the pinch by then, so they’ll probably settle for half pay to work on the racetracks. Maybe we can use this to put the squeeze on the construction guys, reduce the R2-billion building costs, and push our profits even further upwards?

Implement
Once work on the circuits has commenced we can revise the budgets and squeeze another few billion out of the taxpayers. Then, of course, the old World Cup airports will probably need a lot of work to make them suitable for all the MotoGP flights coming in.

I can see that the unpatriotic and disloyal naysayers are going to point out that we’ll end up with six or seven truly world class circuits for just one Grand Prix meeting a year. That is not a problem, because we’ll change the way things are done! Meet with Dorna and propose that they run the entire world championship series in South Africa, with two rounds at each of our tracks. Point out how that will reduce the travelling allowances they have to pay the teams and award Dorna’s leadership a contract or two through the back door and I’m sure they’ll jump at the chance to help uplift Africa’s poor.

I’ve just had another brainwave! Why don’t we sell naming rights for MotoGP with the bid-winning manufacturer being allowed to brand every single bike in the race as its own? Rossi may not want to ever ride for the big H again, but if they have the money to replace his Yamaha’s insignia with their own he may have no choice but to start bringing home the bacon for Honda once again. It’s a win-win situation for everybody! There will, of course, be a suitably large commission payable to whoever handles the negotiations — maybe 40%?

Sepp, I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I’ve finally written to you! South Africa will undoubtedly benefit from my proposal. Critics have spoken repeatedly of the hangover that will follow the Soccer World Cup. Now, with the new MotoGP World Championship series destined to held in South Africa we can offer our people a hair of the dog that bit them!

Kind regards from your ally in entrepreneurship,

Gavin Foster

This is a modified version of a column in the April 2010 edition of 2Wheels magazine.

Author

  • Gavin Foster

    Durban photojournalist Gavin Foster writes mainly for magazines. His articles and photographs have appeared in hundreds of South African, American and British publications, and he's also instigated and researched stories for Carte Blanche. Winner of the Magazine Publishers Association of South Africa PICA Profile Writer of the Year Award in 2008. South African Guild of Motoring Journalists Motorcycle Journalist of the Year (Magazines) 2015/16/17. South African Guild of Motoring Journalists Motorcycle Journalist of the Year (Overall) 2015/16. South African Guild of Motoring Journalists Motorsport Journalist of the Year (Magazines) 2017 - Runner-Up 2015/16.