Usually, when the sandman fails to make his nightly visits (which is a frequent occurrence in my world), I kill time in the early morning hours by either reading or writing. However, having recently finished reading the rather unimaginative seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia there is hardly anything of interest on my bookshelf. This is perhaps compounded by the fact that most of it consists of non-fiction and auto/biographical works that relate to South African politics or politics more general. For some reason I have, since completing my BA (Hons) political science degree, been reluctant to approach anything remotely addressing these subjects.
So, I’ll turn to Thought Leader this morning seeing as most of my (normal) Facebook friends are (wise and) sleeping. Besides, there’s nothing that exhausts one quite as much as, what may be considered, a bout of verbal diarrhoea.
I thought I’d follow Jon Cayzer’s example, having departed today from mainly political musings and instead writing about close encounters with great whites (the shark, not the rather persistent Afrikaner Nationalists still present although functionally extinct in South African society). Departing in a similar fashion from politics I thought it necessary to reflect on a subject I probably know even less about: soccer, more specifically, the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.
Ever since South Africa was tipped as host country for the largest event on the soccer calendar, I’ve approached the subject as a pragmatic optimist, appreciating its potential and clinging to the hope that we as a nation would overcome the logistical and infrastructural difficulties highlighted by critics and host a spectacular World Cup! Something with as much, if not more, African va va voom as exhibited in the 2010 African Cup of Nations opening ceremony in Angola, only on Mzansi soil and sans the unfortunate and condemnable terror attack on the Togolese footballers.
This pragmatic optimism was uncontrollably augmented by the draw held in Cape Town on December 4. Having been fortunate enough to be in Long Street in that roaring crowd on the occasion, I was slightly overwhelmed by the festive mood, the air filled with an undeniable sense of pride and excitement and the very diverse nature of the crowd assembled.
Putting aside the concerns over thousands of revellers, the general difficulty in acquiring beer and the near impossibility of making sense of what was transpiring on the screens, the entire spectacle (used here in the most non-pejorative way possible) induced an incredible feeling of optimism! It’s Africa’s, South Africa’s time to shine! A message carefully constructed and shrewdly broadcast by an evidently competent PR team and gobbled up by the crowd and viewers across the country and the world. “Wow, we can do it!” I thought as all traces of doubt escaped my mind — and it could hardly have been the effect of Windhoek Lager as I had only had two dumpies by then! In a moment of euphoria I even dared to compare the potential of Fifa 2010 with our nation-building 1994 rugby miracle … sacrilegious, I know.
I resolved there and then that attending a match is an absolute must and committed myself to acquiring tickets in the foreseeable future.
However, skip a few months ahead, and I stumble upon this in the blogosphere:
“To my shock and horror I found that a return ticket from Jozi to Cape Town during the period of the World Cup (I used 19 – 21 June 2010) come to a whopping R4,489.00 (Kulula), R4,598.00 (1Time) and R7,240.00 (SAA). So there you have it – an price increase 320% for Kulula and 1Time and a astronomical 517% increase if you fly SAA. OMG !!! That is the good news!!! The bad news is that the prices are bound to increase even more as seats get scarcer. So if you are planning to fly nationally in SA … by your ticket now – or for the same price of a SAA ticket to Cape Town, you can buy a flight with 5 days accommodation to Mauritius … eish life is tough.”
I admit that I did not investigate the claims personally (shoddy journalism, I know) but it was backed up with screenshots (not exactly incontestable proof, but I’ll put my money on it).
Like the author I’m appalled at this inexplicable sudden (astronomic) increase. It might be attributable to the basic economic doctrine of supply and demand, that’s one way of looking at it, but it still remains — at least to me — deplorable.
Additionally, the rather complicated ticketing procedures for the matches (I had to read up quite a bit on how this works before a glimmer of understanding dawned) replete with required details of applications, application forms and phases, makes me wonder how much of this event is really for average soccer-loving South African? Whose 2010 is it anyway? So to speak.
Despite my rudimentary understanding of the rules of soccer (the same is true for both rugby and cricket, I’m afraid), I’m still resolved on mastering the ticketing system and acquiring tickets, even if only for one or two matches scheduled in Pretoria or Johannesburg. Besides, I can’t afford the 5-day trip to Mauritius.
I’m sure we’ll host that spectacular event either way and still make ourselves, the continent and the world proud in the process.
Perhaps the world of sport, its matches and organisation is best left untouched by my musings and reflections. I also don’t think these midnight rants are all that good for one’s health (or readership), I should maybe ask Eugene de Kock how he manages to sleep at night. I’m sure there’s a best-selling self-help guide in that.