The vibe from abroad: Reporting the 2010 FIFA World Cup

As preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final Draw in Cape Town on Friday are finalised, I can hear the pencils being sharpened as journalists prepare to file their reports.

There is just so much to criticise – the noise from the vuvuzelas, the potential of having an iPod nicked, stubbing one’s toe on the hire-car door, having one’s lunch snatched by a baboon or, horror of horrors, the broadband connection in the hotel fails…

As I look through national newspapers, expat publications and blog postings on all subjects World Cup-related, my emotions veer from wanting to laugh, to irritation to scepticism. I want to pour my tea over the lot of them.

I have made this selection to share with you, in no particular order:

  • In case the event was just not glamorous enough, Charlize Theron is on her way over to “bring much-needed Hollywood glitz to the troubled preparations for the 2010 World Cup”.

  • Another article is trying to provoke its readers into submitting views on the name (or lack thereof) of Cape Town Stadium – “In a flash of inspiration, the Cape Town City Council has approved Cape Town Stadium as the official name for the city’s 2010 Soccer World Cup venue, rejecting other possibilities including ‘The Motherdome’ and the ‘Helen Zille Stadium’.” What would the responses have been if it wasn’t named the Cape Town Stadium?

  • Always guaranteed to get column inches, a survey by a forex group has found that “Travellers’ knowledge of football World Cup host country South Africa is ‘scant’.” There is confusion about currency, distances between towns and just how many matches are being played, apparently. I was unable to determine the sample size, so perhaps it was a few people interviewed at the local bus stop waiting for the number 47.

  • One blogger summed up the mood on the back pages – “I know a lot of French, but what is the word for ‘handball’, Thierry?”

  • “South Africa’s World Cup preparations overshadowed by fear of failure” screams another headline. “Most South Africans, including former players and officials, are terrified about the impending World Cup … All are insistent that South Africa will host a great World Cup, but are less confident about the performance of their team, fearing that they could turn out to be the sort of hosts who embarrass themselves just as the guests are arriving and are forced to slink away from their own party early…”

  • “Football to footprints: World Cup’s carbon impact”. The South African tournament’s emissions will be greater than those of Germany 2006 – and that is before all those long-haul flights are taken into consideration.

  • “Furry felons rob South African tourists; officials fear 2010 influx will worsen behaviour”. Of the baboons or the tourists?

And, finally:

  • Two British couples are suing a privately-run wildlife reserve near Montagu for more than R7-million after their truck overturned and left them facing a pride of lions. Take note all suppliers whose public liability and public indemnity insurance is not up to date, the Brits are more likely to sue for damages then ever before.

Maybe the mood will lighten once England knows which group it is in – preferably a group not containing France or Portugal!

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