It’s Opening Ceremony time at the World Cup and you know what that means…

Posted: 2010/06/10 in Sport
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s Opening Ceremony time at the World Cup and you know what that means. It’s time to round up every cliché about togetherness, unity and fairplay we have. It’s the same spiel at every Olympic games and World Cups are no different. I don’t have a major problem with it, however, I always find it funny watching opening ceremonies. I wish just once a banner would appear across the screen: “We realize this is actually a sporting tournament. Unfortunately, this type of sentimental marketing is necessary. Don’t worry the games will begin shortly and you can go right back to moaning at the ref.” The time has come for us all to hold hands around the world, enjoy the animal costumes, lazer show, international pop stars and pretend there is no Julius Malema, no Jacob Zuma, no racism, no corruption, no unemployment, no alarming crime rate, no inequality, no political instability in South Africa. It’s head in the sand time till July 11.

No one is denying the power of sport to unify nations even in their darkest hour. The 1995 Rugby World Cup is testament to this. Even Clint Eastwood thinks so (cheap joke). The success of the 1995 tournament and it’s immediate aftermath was an amazing time in South African history and I hope this World Cup brings about the same sentiment. I couldn’t be more proud of South Africa and truly hope it is a wonderful tournament, however, I would like a little more balance and honesty to the mass patriotic hysteria only a few months after Julius Malema was singing about shooting the boer. Malema is not a lone destructive voice. He is a symbol of rumbling discontent amongst the black majority. It may seem cruel to say this on the verge of the biggest sporting event to be hosted on African soil ever. It is not meant to offend. It’s just that I am going to find it hard not to roll my eyes at the usual rainbow-nation clichés and talk about unified races under an umbrella of togetherness or whatever. There is a big difference between patriotic excitement at the start of a major tournament and true reconciliation.

If the World Cup makes people feel more together as a nation for a moment in time then that’s positive so let’s leave it at that. I will also find it emotional when Nelson Mandela appears at the ceremony because deep down we know we are saying goodbye to a truly great human being. All I’m saying is let’s not get carried away by the emotional idealism and clichéd terms being thrown around. Instead, let Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney excite you with their skill. Let’s not forget this is a football tournament first and foremost. It is not a political tool. The international fans have come in their droves to watch their country win matches. That’s it. All they want is to feel safe, get drunk and support their team. Maybe smash up some shops if they lose.

P.s., Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been invited by South Africa along with 20 other heads of state to attend the opening match. I don’t really need to say anything about this.


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