Thursday, 9 July 2009

Why the World Cup could be bad for South Africa

From the school of the "NO DUH" comes something I thought of yesterday evening. I often have these supposed epiphanies and then discover I am centuries behind the world's greatest thinkers, and the plumber down the road.


As we all know, South Africa will be hosting the World Cup next year, and as we all know, some form of crime is going to happen to someone in that time.

It does not matter what type of crime. It probably does not even matter if the total crime rate in that time is lower than that of previous World Cups. Something will happen for sure. Crime will happen in every World Cup anywhere.

We all know that on the whole newspapers are vultures. And from what I have observed in the UK, newspapers here hold nothing back when it comes to slating anything they have decided it is fashionable and profitable to slate. They publish articles based almost entirely on conjecture and speculation, and it seems sometimes, blatant distortion.

I have no doubts that newspapers across the world display similar tactics. South African newspapers are pretty bad, but crime stories are not big sellers in South Africa any more.

What I fear, is that every tiny bit of crime that happens during the World Cup will be zoomed in on and picked apart and displayed to the world as a reason never to step foot in South Africa.

At the moment it is fashionable for journalists in the UK to publish articles about why you should not go to the World Cup in South Africa. It is fashionable to be against the whole thing. So you can bet that come the World Cup, they will be circling around any crime, and offering it up to readers whose minds have already been set before the games began.

Crimes have happened to foreigners before in South Africa, but this is different. There is an agenda. And this is a huge event that is big news anyway.

It is almost as if the newspapers are setting themselves up for their big sell: tell the people about the nasty crime, and then when the World Cup happens, they can sell their big crime stories and say, "look we told you so". Readers love a good bout of expectation and fulfilment, in the style of the Hollywood blockbuster.

What I am saying is no matter how good the Cup actually is, South Africa is going to be dragged through the mud by the international media. And this could persuade many impressionable people to never set foot there.

If damage is done though, I hope it will be short-lived. Travellers tend to depend upon the experiences of other travellers above all when deciding where to go, and if thousands of tourists have a great time in South Africa, the good news will spread quickly.

And travellers have remarkably short memories and strange standards. After the massacres in Kenya, tourism dropped for a bit, but people are still honeymooning there in droves from the UK. Both times I have been to Thailand there has been unrest in the form of a coup and attempted assassination. But, we had booked our tickets. It seemed safe. So we went. It was safe. It is a case of, if other people are going... why can't we?

In the end, I am hopeful that the good publicity will outweigh the bad in the long term.

What do people think about a potential media frenzy no matter what happens in the World Cup? Do you think it could happen? Will it be damaging?


Being Brazen said...

I have no idea what to think about the world cup..It could be bad or very good..

Im a bit nervous at how we are going to pull it off...I drive past the Green Point stadium every day and all i can think long will it take me to get home when the world cup is on?? LOL

Ches said...

Great post Po.

I think the real reason British papers are whinging, is the fact that England might not qualify for the 2010 world cup, so let’s slate the whole event althogether.

And that after 100 years of participating in sports they themselves invented, they've only won 2 World Cups.

The kiwi papers are the same, every time the All Blacks loose, it was food poisoning, or the French illuminate, or space aliens cut Daniel Carters Achilles tendon.

SA papers, I fear, just follow like sheep.

Ches said...

P.S. I think we'll do it though, this 2010, beyond expectation. The vibe for the Confed Cup was great...and I've never seen so many yobbs from the UK during this years Lions tour...they all raved about SA, just not the rugby. ;)

Helen said...

Interesting to see a slightly more international viewpoint on it! Here it's all about the stress of getting ready in time - with load-shedding and a giant concrete shortage and a strike at the mment we ahve no idea if the stadiums wil be ready, not to mention the joy that is the gautrain...

To tell the truth with all the joy of preparing for the world cup I hadn't even thought about the rest of the world's reaction!

Lopz said...

Brilliantly put. I have thought about this before and discussed it with friends, but that was an exceptionally articulate take on it.

I agree - we'll be fed to the international media vultures like carrion to the hyenas the minute the first "incident" occurs.

The only thing that will save us is, like you said, short term memory, and hopefully the few people who are able to think for themselves rather than swallow sensationslised bullshit.

I'm tempted to say we don't need people like that in our country anyway, but of course we do, brainless or not.

It will definitely be one hell of an interesting few weeks.

po said...

BB: I think it will be very good, but with drama of course, everything is dramatic in the news :)

Ches: no comment on the whingeing! I am dissilusioned with all newspapers, from what I have seen in other countries, in the UK, and in SA. I only read online newspapers in SA so the quality is probably not so good, and they are often negative and amazingly full of white-liberal, tending towards conservative stories. But maybe not so weird, since probably more white people read online news. Although that is changing rapidly from what I can see from the online comments.

People like Llewellyn Kriel will say that decent journalism is dead in South Africa. But I have read so much bad journalism in other countries that maybe it is a worldwide trend of crapness?

Helen: the strike is big news over here. Sadly it almost seems like the workers are taking hostages, because they know they can demand whatever they want, cos the stadiums have to be finished!

MAybe the world's reaction doesn't matter after all, South Africans will reap the benefits of the infrastructure and other stuff and that is all good.

Lopz: hehe you see, I am way behind!

People try to think for themselves but it is dam hard when the newspapers feed you nothing but bad stuff. I do not blame people for not wanting to go to South Africa if that is all they know. We know that apart from certain areas it is safe, but they don't know the areas. And Europeans are too innocent and trusting, they don't have that wariness that Saffas have, so they are easy targets.

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Interesting post and yes the Brit papers do over exagerate everything they possibly can. One things for sure, if Brit fans make it there will be trouble!

LadyFi said...

First off, the UK press are vultures! We don't get such terrible tabloids in Scandinavia, for example.

Secondly, Africa is quite often viewed in a negative light, unfortunately.. I'm hoping that both the good and bad parts will be taken up in a constructive manner. After all, putting a little pressure on the SA government when it comes to a good AIDS policy is something I have nothing against.

Thirdly, I think a lot of coverage will be about the football... so hopefully that will keep things even?

cybersass said...

i think you're right po. this will be one of those self-fulfilling prophecies.
there really is no way south africa can win on this one. look at the drama with the soccer teams whose hotel rooms were robbed/burgled during the confed cup. no matter what - there will be those who are going to gloat and say "i told you so".