You see, as a resident in the glorious R of SA, few conversations go by here that don't stray to our readiness for the World Cup next year. In my worst nightmares, I see the new stadiums falling to pieces under too much strain and vibration, and a line of muggers waiting outside the major airports a la LA Story.
Unfortunately I wasn't around for most of the tournament, but here's what gathered since I got back last week in time to watch the semis and the final.
1. FIFA President Sepp Blatter gave South Africa 7.5/10 for the tournament. Take it for what it's worth.
2. Trust nothing you read on SA's official 2010 website, its sole purpose seems to be leaking government propaganda under the guise of a legitimate news site.
3. Security was a major issue, and was the main reason Blatter marked us down from 10. Not a big surprise seeing as security for the tournament was still up in the air until a few days before the start. Once things got underway the approach taken for games was apparently no where near good enough. My favorite quote from this last article:
"The OC’s Rich Mkhondo has persistently denied any safety breaches and Fifa president Sepp Blatter suggested at a press briefing on Friday that those doubting the effectiveness of security plans were racist."
For those of you not living in South Africa, this is pretty standard argumentation protocol. Here in politics, here in sport, and, oh right, here in the banking sector. Racist players from Brazil and Egypt also reported having their possessions stolen from their hotel rooms.
4. A German journalist died in a car crash. Even though it sounds like the accident didn't involve another car, I've always regarded driving here, especially in Gauteng (the province with most of the confed cup games), as an extreme sport. Potential motoristsneed to be aware that driving here can be particularly dangerous, and it doesn't help when you A) have to drive on the other side of the road and B) need to be able to handle manual transmission, as most rental cars are not automatics.
If I may be a bit cynical, all the stadiums used were upgrades and not from scratch. I still say a prayer every time I go by Green Point stadium. I just hope they've used different companies than the ones who built the gaggle of auto-collapsing shopping malls. But, hey, it's hard to mess up concrete, right? Anyway, the big problem isn't really the stadiums, or even security, it's the OC. Their attitude exhibits a sense of denial that would even make Mohammed al-Sahhaf proud. Read all about it on the aforementioned 2010 website. Hopefully they actually do a proper post-mortem on the confed cup and figure out what went wrong and what still needs to be done from an operational perspective. Otherwise be prepared to have your wallets ready as you exit the terminal.