Posts Tagged ‘south Africa’

... and that's what we think about FIFA's "branding"

As the World Cup winds down, here’s a few things I learnt about the World’s Greatest Sporting Event (FIFA TM) while on my travels.

  1. David Villa is a genius. If you think he looks quick on TV, you should see him in the flesh. His pace, vision and reactions have to be seen to be believed. This goal against Honduras (obligingly scored right in front of us at Ellis Park) was sublime.
  2. FIFA branding sucks. I know FIFA’s global sponsorship deals are what keeps the whole circus going but does every single World Cup venue and experience have to be exactly the same? Apart from packets of biltong and the Ellis Park pies, local products were excluded from the stadiums by FIFA who only allowed Coca-Cola drinks, watery Budweiser beer and the blandest of hotdogs. Oh – and you could only pay by Visa.
  3. England really were that bad. As Alexi Lalas told a perplexed fellow ESPN panelist Steve McManaman after the 0-0 debacle against Algeria, “maybe they’re just not that good”. No, Alexi, they were much worse … (more…)

Has any country been as proud and passionate about hosting the World Cup as South Africa?

I’m just back from my World Cup safari to South Africa with a lot of memories from the trip of a lifetime. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll have seen a whole bunch of photos, observations and witticisms from the past three weeks. Thanks to all of you for your kind comments – glad you enjoyed the trip too, at least vicariously!

They say that once experienced, South Africa and the continent never leaves you. As an outsider visiting the place for just a few weeks I am clearly no expert on this vast and complicated land. But for what it’s worth here are some random thoughts on what I experienced in this inspiring yet disturbing country …


Tickets? Check. Passport? Check. Bullet-proof vest? Well hopefully not … On Thursday I set out for South Africa for the World Cup and it’s hard not to feel like a kid at Christmas.

This will be my fourth mundial having previously been to USA 94, France 98 and Germany 06 but the anticipation never wanes. And experiencing the event in Africa for the first time makes it extra special.

I’ll be traveling with the usual trio of footy-mad mates and we’re lucky enough to have 10 matches lined up in 14 days, kicking off with the mouth-watering prospect of Brazil v Ivory Coast in Soccer City on June 20. We’ll also see Germany v Ghana, Spain v Chile amongst others and, if the group seedings go to plan, England in the round of 16 in Rustenburg and a possible Argentina v Germany quarter-final in Cape Town. I can’t wait – although we will have to spend three days getting there first via New York and Barcelona (don’t ask – it was the only way we could get there for under $1500). (more…)