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End of the World (Cup)

End of the World (Cup)

by Roger Young, illustration by Alastair Laird / 19.07.2010

Predictably the swell of FIFA approved journalist’s tweeting about their withdrawal symptoms culminated late last week in “think” pieces about what we have learnt from hosting the World Cup. Even more predictably most of them focus on how proud we should be that Sepp Blatter has given us a little pat on the head and how now we should start working towards an Olympic Bid. But let’s just cut to the chase and say it up front, Fuck the 2020 Olympic bid.

The experience of the World Cup for South Africa was like buying a super expensive tab of ecstasy, splitting it with a pretty girl, wandering around for a month telling people we don’t normally speak to that we love them and then being surprised that the pretty girl has left with some one richer and better looking. Inevitably feelings of inadequacy will set in.

The expensive lessons we learnt were 1) An effective and visible police force lowers the crime rate. 2) African national teams cannot match European National teams in this kind of competition. 3) An effective late night public transport system means fewer deaths by drunken driving. 4) More public rubbish bins means less litter. 5) If you can’t see poverty it doesn’t exist and 6) Large spectacles divert our attention away from the issues. These were hardly lessons we needed to spend a couple hundred hospitals and schools on.

The term “Unrealistic Expectations” entered the popular lexicon like a poesklap when Bafana crashed out. We need to apply this term to the expectations we had for what the World Cup was going to do for us. Unrealistically we think it’s going to make us respected by our former colonial masters, so we begged and we scraped and ran around letting them spend our national resources. And what did we expect to get? What is this “respect” that will somehow fix all our problems? By doing what exactly? Bringing some more tourists. Why do we need approval so very badly? And no I don’t buy the “Teenage Nation” theory at all, I think we’re just lazy thinkers.

On the day of the Bafana vs France game I got to the Cape Town fan park late. I had a media pass so it wasn’t a problem. But it was. The Deputy Mayor had apparently arrived and the media gate was shut, according to security staff the amount of people allowed in the fan park had been lessened for security reasons. I eventually got in. The Deputy Mayor was sitting in the grandstands, away from the hoi polloi. The day before Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London had been in the Cape Town fan park. He had no visible security, had apparently arrived unannounced and had wandered around the fan park seemingly on his own, buying beer, generally being a football fan and leaving mostly before anyone had noticed he had been there. For me it was interesting mainly because it’s always been my experience that people who make a big deal about their presence are fundamentally insecure. And this World Cup was full of signs of a nation insecure of its status in the global realm; an administration saying fuck the people, look at us.

I checked out of the World Cup early, a couple of days after the Bafana game. I was in a fan park watching the Dutch beat someone and I was planning to go to Long Street afterwards to meet happy Dutch people. (What was I expecting? Amsterdam to descend?) I had this sudden realization that by being in the fan park, by approving of this event I was essentially depriving a child somewhere of an education. Every time a South African went to a stadium they were more or less depriving a mother of her ARV’s. I know, I know, that’s capitalism right? Someone has to suffer so someone can get ahead. And yes, I’m as guilty as the rest of us, I bought into it, I took the ecstasy and I loved it.

But I have a simple question, if the City of Cape Town can provide toilets to all the people in the fan parks, why can they not build toilets in Kayelitsha? If our President can deploy scores of accountants to find the money to build stadiums, why has he still not declared his assets? If we have the political will to short cut bureaucracy and put effective infrastructure in place for FIFA, why do we not have it to make the changes for our own people? The lesson, really, that we have learned from hosting the World Cup is that all things are possible with the right motivation. The politicians we have currently seem to thrive on international approval. It’s time that they learned that the approval that matters is from the people who vote them into power. The real gees we need to carry through is the gees to campaign for effective late night public transport, cleaner streets, more visible and effective policing, hospitals, more schools, effective arts and sports programs and higher pay to teachers and policemen. Because without these things people feel disenfranchised and then look for easy targets. Not having these things is why we are constantly drawn into conversations about race, it’s why the xenophobic attacks are happening.

And I’m not talking about some vague notion of expecting government to harness the gees, I’m talking about you, right now, thinking of some way to show government that it’s time to start spending money on long-term bottom up solutions and forget these short term feel good quick fixes. And the only way for this to happen is for us to let them know by protest, effective campaign and unity, let’s pick out issues and fight for them one by one. Our politicians need to start looking for approval from the people as their motivation and realize that a secure nation doesn’t need to court attention from outside its borders. The only way they’re going to learn this is if we, the people, grow some balls and to stand up and teach them. So I say goodbye to our FIFA overlords (please take your Budweiser with you) and yeah, fuck the 2020 Olympic Bid!

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  1. Lizzy says:

    in my opinion the best thing to come out of the WC is the realisation that proper public transport is possible. By this i mean government led multi-modal public transport options, not just more taxi routes. I hear guys from PRASA and local government making pretty confident noises about the possibility of better public transport connections around Durban. and since durbs is the backest of backwaters, i’m assuming that jhb and cpt are full steam ahead in this regard (unrealistic assumption?). now just to compact the cities enough to make public transport an achievable goal. planners, take note.
    otherwise roger is quite right. the soccer was a waste of money and a constipator of service delivery. the olympic bid can go to hell.

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  2. Matt says:

    The your final paragraph should’ve read:

    “By the way there is no Santa, your mom likes anal and one day even you will die”. Being so unabashedly negative does not make you cool. It just makes you a gorm. Do you really think that by me buying a ticket to the world cup I deprived a mother of her ARVs? Pathetic. I wouldn’t have given my money to her and there were absolutely no reports of government delivery of ARVs being interrupted due to the cup. South Africa’s problem is not a lack of funding for ARVs it’s the ability to spend that funding wisely. That was just negative propaganda. Go fuck yourself with a rusty razorblade.

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  3. Max says:

    “The expensive lessons we learnt were 1) An effective and visible police force lowers the crime rate. 2) African national teams cannot match European National teams in this kind of competition. 3) An effective late night public transport system means fewer deaths by drunken driving. 4) More public rubbish bins means less litter. 5) If you can’t see poverty it doesn’t exist and 6) Large spectacles divert our attention away from the issues. These were hardly lessons we needed to spend a couple hundred hospitals and schools on.”

    very well summed up

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  4. Roger Young. says:


    A: The point I am making about Education and ARV’sand funding is think of how much more of it there could be if we hadn’t built those stadiums and had this Cup. Think of how that education could have led to us one day having a better ability to spend funding wisely.

    B: I am Santa, I am already dead, and yes your mother does like anal, but i have stopped doing it to her, she’s got some hectic anal leakage. Cue personal insults, mud slinging, yadda yadda.

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  5. alicia cheese says:

    The real lesson we have learned is that where the collective will is the strongest and the proper managerial resources are allowed to operate, then much more is possible. Out of fear of failure and global humiliation, the World Cup was micro-managed – poor performance, missing of deadlines and laziness were simply not tolerated out of necessity. If our government took the same stance with the Civil Service and the management of taxpayer’s resources, then we would have much better service delivery at all times. But our government feels less embarrassed about its failures in front of our own nation’s people than it does in the presence of foreigners. It’s a sick example of how familiarity breeds contempt.

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  6. the Makeout Tramp says:

    ‘the approval that matters is from the people that voted them into power’ – people power is capable of a lot more than dispensing approval for appointees – see France in 1789, Russia in 1917, Cuba in the 50s…Poland in the 80s, East Germany in the 90s. People collectively can change EVERYTHING.

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  7. Angela says:

    Well said.

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  8. anastassia molto says:

    the government has spoken. she wants planners to take note.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    While I might not agree with everything written here, there are some valid points. I do believe, however, that often the best lessons learned come at a high price. Even if we could’ve, in theory, taught ourselves these lessons, would it have happened if it weren’t for the Cup? Our government has proven that it can make things happen and, if nothing else, South Africans will (and should) start expecting more. We’ve had a taste of what things could be like on a regular basis, and it’s time we start demanding them.

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  10. the government says:

    yes, she has spoken. and all planners are idiots. i should know.

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  11. L says:

    I really hope that Roger will become a writer who earns enough money so that he can attend therapy, because it seems that like nothing in life pleases him.

    The cynical indie music critic who pretends to be so apathetic towards the idea of joy is a dated act. God help you if you really are like this in real life.

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  12. steady now says:

    that ‘illustration’ is just … awful

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  13. Roger Young. says:

    Hey L!

    Pay attention, every so often I write about stuff I like. Maybe I’m using words you don’t.

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  14. Mo says:


    Thank god you are not in charge of our coffers. If you were to take your argument to its logical conclusion, we would have no art, no sport, no philosophy, and certainly no botanical gardens. There are always ‘better” ways of spending government money. The World Cup has done wonders for our nation’s spirit. The spotlight on our nation could not have been bought.

    At least your article has one correct assumption – we certainly will receive significantly more tourists as a result of hosting it.

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  15. Mo says:

    Sorry, Roger, not Alistair. Alistair did the illustration.

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  16. Roger Young. says:


    Your comment has one incorrect assumption. The spotlight on our nation WAS bought.

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  17. JordaanSeDouche says:

    As with most things in this country, the WC has made the rich richer and the poor poorer. Those that can’t see that are clearly in the “richer” category and have the obligatory blinkers on.

    All those saying, “This has done wonders for the nation’s spirit”…..smoke a joint and then try to get into the mindset and emotions of someone kakking in a hole, cooking pap on a parafin stove, with a sick kid in the bed.

    You can’t fucking eat ‘spirit”

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  18. G says:

    Money spent on the SWC would not, and indeed could not, have been spent on schools and education. I’m not sure that you understand the economics behind the numbers. It’s not a simple borrowing from one pot to lend to another situation. As clichéd as it sounds, this World Cup really has given this country (many) things that money can’t buy. To be so negative about that is sad. Having said that, you have made a few interesting points. I agree that the Olympic Bid is a bad idea – it won’t be econimically successful – as the SWC was and will continue to be.

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  19. Scout says:

    a bit negative but very valid. we kinda need to look at where the money would have gone had it not been spent on world cup stadiums etc. chances are back into the pockets of those in charge, bringing us back here whining and bitching. we really do need to find a more aggressive way of addressing the issues that the country is faced with. don’t get me wrong i’m all for forums and debate but sometimes i feel like the quote ” The universe applauds action and not thought” should be put into practice. i don’t mean it in the current ANC’s sort of way.

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  20. LindoKush says:

    So this article sounds a bit like the writer expected manna to fall from from the skies, and this is just his bile purge when he found it was confetti from the opening game. Get over it dude. None of the negatives you’ve mentioned are new. We knew this pre-bid. We know this post world-cup. Its the same as a pothole being fixed in the burb when the hood still has no streets. The pothole, regardless still needs to be fixed.Just because you derived little pleasure from S.A hosting the World Cup does not make said hosting a moral and ethical issue, nor does it make those who did enjoy socially unaware. Its a FIFA world cup that was merely being hosted in our country. What did you expect?

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  21. LindoKush says:

    oh, every governmental department has an approved budget. how they spend that money is not dependant on how other divisions spend theirs.Major arguement flaw. Whats it called? a cause and correlation fallacy?

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  22. Anonymous says:

    “Roger” is an aviation code word that means “I received your entire message”. It doesn’t imply you agree or even that you understand what it means.

    But wiki proves its worth yet again…

    From c.1650 to c.1870 Roger was slang for the word “penis” probably due to the origin of the name involving fame with a spear.

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  23. G says:

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call Roger a penis, but this^ observation is funny.

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  24. Lizzy says:

    Roger your fans are at it again! if only somone would call me a penis. sigh.

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  25. JordaanSeDouche says:

    The default human position seems to be to not give a toss about others. This is amply illustrated by Roger’s critics to this article (although some are just juvenile name-callers).

    The funny thing is the whitey’s commenting on this article who really have no clue as to how the majority of people in this county live. This is through no fault of their own, it simply is what it is…lets call it luck of the draw. Yet they comment on how positive this WC has been for the country. Who is the country? 8% of the population and a black ruling class? or 30-40 million poor?

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  26. creepy steve says:

    i got paid 4000 rond to dj a few times at some shitty unattended fifa fan fest. now the world cup is over who’s gonna pay me to kick aids orphans.
    what did i learn from 2010: a fool and his money are soon parted
    and the goverment can get it in to gear but only if the occason is a party

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  27. Mpho says:

    First, the illustration is not ayoba. I am quite sure Mahala can do much better. All in all, an interesting article. Funny thing is, “we” all knew the WC will cost a lot, now, just about “everyone” (including politicians) are counting the cost and pointing figures. How pathetic, back-stabbers!! Not that I care about the WC (or as some say in cyberspace, Folloywood aka Fifa’s Hollywood) when our own service delivery, or lack, of requires an overhaul.

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  28. Roger Young. says:

    Ahhh, thank god the illo is not ayabo.

    Okay, let’s talk about this cause and correlation “fallacy”

    Every govt department does indeed have budgets. And yes how one dept spends theirs does not affect the others. But where does that money come from in the first place. The tax payer. So the money existed. Then it was assigned to the WC. Thereby lessening the possible budgets of the other departments. Make sense?

    Also. Yes, we all knew pre WC about this expenditure and what it would mean and we all took the ecstasy and danced and loved it and by “we” I mean the upper middle class. As mentioned in the comments above a large percentage of the population got nothing but vague promises out of the WC and their kids got taken out of school for a month. Yay.

    The biggest problem is that everyone with the power to make change, to protest, just went either “YAY! PARTY!” or “What’s the use of complaining?”. This has to stop. Going forward we need to asses what a huge fuck up hosting the WC was and as a people who care about our long term future start to be very vocal about not letting this kind of thing happen again.

    Remember tone of the contributing factors to the collapse of the Greek economy was the fact that they hosted the Olympics. It just took a few years for the effects to be felt.

    In other news the Department of Health is turning to the corporate sector to raise money for the 8bn needed to rebuild and refurbish existing hospitals because the money doesn’t exist in the budget. R8bn? How much did those stadiums cost?

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t Mahala criticising the naysayers before the tournament?

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  30. Lizzy says:

    working in a govt department i have to confirm that wc projects took priority over everything else. and i mean everything. this includes the allocation of budgets (which happened a few years ago). we had to spin project briefs to make them look like they were connected to the event somehow before funding was easily obtained.
    not just money was reallocated, also expertise. the traffic and transportation guys were unavailable for any other projects up until a week ago. contractors virtually shut down for anything else for a month. no-one was available for meetings for that month, council went into recess. it was a very unproductive time.
    anyway. that was my experience.

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  31. Roger Young. says:

    Yo! Anon, Mahala doesn’t have meetings about what the group response will be. Different writers different opinions. I have always been critical from way before the draw even. I did get swept up in the first 2 weeks though, my bad.

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  32. dylan says:

    The FIFA 2010 World Cup was arguably the largest and most successful event ever hosted by South Africa and probably touched the lives of all South Africans. Whilst watching this event, did you ever wonder:

    · How the stage management of the tournament seemed so faultless?

    · Was the security of the Cape Town Stadium ever at risk?

    · Why this World Cup seemed different to all World Cups you have seen before?

    · What happens behind the scenes before the players come out onto the pitch, and after the final whistle is blown?

    · What happens when a player gets injured?

    · What is the legacy that remains after FIFA has left our shores?

    To be thoroughly entertained, have these questions answered and hear many other inside stories, join Professor Wayne Derman for a free talk at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Boundary Road, Newlands on Monday 2 August 2010. Derman was Cape Town’s Venue Medical Officer for the FIFA 2010 World Cup. He has previously fulfilled the positions of Chief Medical Officer for the South African Team to the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 Olympic Games, and the South African Paralympic Team to Beijing in 2008 – and so comes with a wealth of experience.

    Registration for the talk will start at 18h00 with the presentation starting promptly at 18h30. A cash bar will be available during registration. Seating is limited so book your seat by emailing Parveen Banderker at workshop@ssisa.com or for enquiries phone [021] 659 5649 between 13h00 and 16h00 (weekdays only).

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  33. Andy says:

    Dylan you’re being a PR douche now

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  34. Mpho says:

    Registration for the talk will start at 18h00 with the presentation starting blah blah …


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  35. Daimond Geezer says:

    Know your tabs from your pills.

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  36. Roger Young. says:


    “probably touched the lives of all South Africans”

    And at least 85% of those in a negative way.

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  37. Jozua says:

    Yo, nice catchy intro to your article. What I love is your passion to want to see change! I think the focus is INCENTIVE> it has little to do with “evil” (whatever) capitalism…. our incentive for the WC was to impress and that some monkeys in government would look like monkeys in suits instead. well done. they did it. now what the fuck next? if we can package the success of this WC to south africans (political et al) and use that as incentive then we’re good to go. lets see ma gent.

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  38. Happy says:

    I’m impressed by the fact that JZ got out of the whole world cup fiasco relatively clean. He used Sepp Blatter as the fall-guy and most bad criticism was against Fifa, not SA. Roger, I also think that you underestimate the value of millions of viewers worldwide who tuned in to SA. Before this world cup our little country might not even have existed in these people’s minds, but now that they have heard about it and seen it, it becomes part of their world too. Marketing 101, it takes money to make money, and we have showed international investors that we can perform when push comes to shove. I buy into the whole idea of SA being the world’s gateway to Africa. But we still have a way to go.

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  39. media hussies says:

    Hear Hear Roger! Couldnt have said it better myself. I thought WC was like a one night stand. The Foreigners were like the one night stand that sneaks out in the middle of the night, steals the bottle of tequila you were drinking (thats why you ended up picking them up at the bar) and leaves the door open and you wake up to a bergie sitting in your bedroom scratching his balls. We, the SA nation is like the one night stand that WONT leave. We have made coffee, had a shower, even breakfast and still they are looking at you as if you now must marry them and give your heart to them. Driving around J-sec you notice how everyone is reluctant to take down the flags, the “welcome tourists” signs, the limp and now abused car flags and the bloody balls. From the moment that the government put those balls on the hillbrow tower i wanted to shoot them down. Its 2 weeks people, clear up, wrap up and get the hell on with reality. Now we need to deal with the possible pregnancy and the 18 years of payback – bills, bills, bills – a possible shot of STD’s and even them turning into a stalker. Yes some of our pockets were lined, yes we had a “good time” (most of my single girlfriends turned into representatives of the UN but on the party and sex scene) but at what cost. “had this sudden realization that by being in the fan park, by approving of this event I was essentially depriving a child somewhere of an education” is a perfect way to sum it up. So FICK FUFA!

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  40. Kulud says:

    Fuck you, This WC was the shit, why cant just say it because is was SOCCER WC, you expected it to FAIL, you POES. If it was the Rugby World Cup, you would have not even mention you dumb ignorant POES.

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  41. Walter says:

    Jeez, while I agree that Blatter is Jabba the Hut and FIFA is the gestapo, all I saw were smiling faces and waving flags. I loved every second of it. What a cool month to be in South Africa.

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  42. Charles says:

    LOVED the article. Nice and ballsy. So what if it’s a little angsty…the writer backs it up with some solid reasoning. Keep ’em coming Mahala…I’m a FanBOOI!!!

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  43. Kulud says:

    Thanks Walter

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  44. LindoKushle says:

    Not sure what you used to assume that we=upper middle class, the fact that I can read?
    Anyway,your arguement is over-simplistic and smacks of white/rich guilt and atoning for the Forefathers sins by being overly-involved. read: nit-picky and naggy.
    I’ve asked some kids at the Johannesburg Childrens home what they’d have preffered_they’d have rather had the world cup.
    Alex and Soweto came alive when Bafana played. I know, I was there. No camera, No Notepad.
    The expenses are not Sunken costs_what is not retrievable monetarily from further use of the stadia,increased foreign investment and trade, are the kind of things that aren’t meant to be measured financially in any case.

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  45. Kulud says:

    Charles you mean negative and pessimistic…………..its People like you(Charles) who is the biggest danger to this country, Mahala made some good points and yes they true, but its his opinions. Stop talking other’s steam to fuel your train, you are PUSSY as the rest of the other steam takers are………………….you FOKKER

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  46. Kulud says:

    I’m a wanker

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  47. Roger Young says:


    The assumption that I even like rugby makes your insults sting that much more.

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  48. Tino says:

    Best thing about the WC was that we, the people, got out there and enjoyed ourselves (the soccer was really a sideshow). THAT’S what made it safe and lekker, not more cops on the streets etc etc. It’s our PRESENCE that’s needed. On issues… ever notice that the more we get into them, the bigger they get? And that when we don’t pay attention to them, they fade away? These are the lessons, people…

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  49. Graeme Feltham says:

    Methinks all you mumgwaps that took swipes at this article should be extras in Young’s upcoming film “Night of the Living Brain-Dead”. This writing should have jiggled your neurons but the last few synapses in your heads have snapped just as your analytical apparati – the texture of shredded wheat – has collapsed under the strain of trying to understand what is essentially obvious.

    As for you, Wodja Wabbit, finally some sense. I can only assume you have stopped feeding the run-of-the-mill junk that you were or the inverse and are cultivating a healthy needle-to-the-brain habit.

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  50. Mike Miller (USA) says:

    Everything is a learning lesson. The show was great. I personally didn’t like Mugabi being there. The soccer was really great. My old country has matured as have I. The world is indeed a small place. Technology is absolutely amazing. Most of the writers’ comments are particularly relevant.

    So good luck to all!

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  51. Duranite says:

    this article sums it all up perfectly.

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  52. Sim says:

    All very nice, but why continue to criticise it now? To say I told you so when something bad happens? It’s over. The harm you claim it has done has been done, and any protest marches you may have wanted someone (obviously not you) to organise are too little too late. You might as well have had a good time. Nothing would have been gained or lost.

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  53. Roger Young. says:

    Um, ja, it happened, I’m pointing out that we shouldn’t let it happen again. And we should protest if they try bring the Olympics.

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  54. MF says:

    Mr. Young’s argument is articulate and obviously delivered with some passion, but a sentence like “I had this sudden realization that by being in the fan park, by approving of this event I was essentially depriving a child somewhere of an education” irritate me a lot. Among other things, it firstly assumes that the money spent on the WC would inevitably have gone into a more noble cause, which is a guess at best, and further that the 85% of South Africans he alleges were victimised by the WC all tacitly agree with him. Maybe so, but it’s all very presumptuous. I’ve spent the past month scouring the media at home and abroad for their take on the WC and its socioeconomic impact and far wiser and more measured witnesses seem to disagree almost without exception to the opinions of Mr. Young. That said, I was probably looking for positive reports so found what I was after, which isn’t exactly thorough. I do respect Mr. Young’s desire to make the government more accountable. I’m just not sure his guilt is doing anyone any good. Leaving a fan park because you feel as though you’re depriving a child of an education is self righteous beyond belief. It’s like taking public transport when you have a Golf 4 in the garage, which is a condition a lot of us liberals suffer and one that helps nobody. But then maybe this is no more than a soapbox rant, in which case Mr. Young seems to have done his job if not made his point.

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  55. Graeme Feltham says:

    Shut up, you bladdy agent!

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  56. Womble says:

    Loved it. True. not negative.. Realistic.

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