Perspectives on the World Cup Tournament in South Africa

Perspectives on the World Cup Tournament in South Africa

David Bogopa
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
School of Governmental and Social Sciences
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

The focus of this piece is to reflect briefly on three issues: organization, performance, and fair play. Lastly I make some recommendations.

There is no doubt in everyone’s mind that, thus far, South Africa is coping very well in terms of the organization of the 2010 World cup tournament. The opening ceremony was well organized and the opening match between South Africa and Mexico went well without any incident. There were no delays in terms of kick-offs, each and every match started on time. There are, however, few questionable issues that happened behind the scenes; for example, corruption and nepotism. There are incidents where officials mismanaged the world cup resources; food allowances to the volunteers in some cases did not reach the intended people. The key positions were allocated to friends and relatives. Tenders were also channelled to well-established businesses in towns and disadvantaged areas were neglected.

FIFA has a zero tolerance on racism but there is a long way to go in terms of gender sensitivity. There were no female fourth officials, no female commentators on South African television, and no female stadium announcer. This gender insensitivity remains a big challenge.

Teams and Officials Performance
The majority of African teams taking part in the tournament performed poorly and could not make it to the knock-out stage of the tournament. Former World Cup champions (Italy and France) also displayed a dismally poor performance and they could not qualify to the knock-out stage either. Some of the match officials contributed to the downfall of the above-mentioned teams. For example, the red card awarded to the South African goal-keeper caused South Africa a place in the next round of the tournament. Further, the second goal awarded during the Brazil and Cote Ivoire match was controversial. The Brazilian striker handled the ball twice in full view of the match officials and yet the goal was counted.

FIFA Fair Play
Fifa fair play is only good on paper and it will take more than twenty years to get it functional as long as there is no introduction of technology to assist the match referees. For example, there were dubious decisions taken by match officials and that caused some of the teams not to advance to the next stage of the tournament.

In future, Fifa must put up structures in place to address corruption, nepotism, and poor performance by match officials. The introduction of technology to assist the match officials is long overdue. Technology has been used in tennis, rugby, and cricket successfully to assist match officials to make informed and fair decisions. It is therefore high time that Fifa should introduce it as well. Soccer match officials are human and they must assisted by technology at times.


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