Africa deserves another Cup

When
the football World Cup was awarded to South Africa to stage the 2010
tournament, there was an air of inevitability because many felt it should have
been there four years earlier when Germany got it.

Africa
had never hosted the World Cup in its 80-year history for no better reason than
it was not seen as a commercially viable place. Fears of mass crime, inadequate
stadia, poor communications and total incompetence in organising sport’s second
biggest event after the Olympics were the easy ‘reasons’ to spout. (Yet
countries in other continents have the same criticism in the lead up to them
staging it.)

South
Africa hosted the rugby World Cup with aplomb in 1995 when still in its
transition phase, post-apartheid. Granted the football version is on a
considerably larger scale, but the template was set.

Even
with minor hiccups that beset every tournament of this size and not with
standing the constant buzz of the vuvuzelas (loud horns), South Africa has done
an admirable job. The fact that Nelson Mandela – the most admired and respected
man on the planet – is endorsing this tournament, adds to its lustre. African
fans have demonstrated a love and knowledge of the game unsurpassed by fans
elsewhere. For many African supporters, it is the only sport they embrace.  Ghana got farthest of the six African
countries in the 32-team competition, cruelly ousted in the quarter-finals by a
combination of cynical cheating and inept penalty taking, but at least judging
by the overall success, Africa will no longer be seen as an inferior place to
stage an event of this magnitude.

The
historical significance is that the African continent deserves another shot at
the World Cup relatively soon because the current one has generated so much
goodwill and kudos.

Add
to that the fact that some of the planet’s best players are African – Drogba,
Essien, Eto’o… plus their national teams are emerging as worthy opponents to
the traditional powerhouses and Africa staging another World Cup should come
far quicker than another 80 years.

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