Six years ago those of us who put our heads on a block and said that South Africa was more than capable of organising the soccer World Cup were lambasted by naysayers, afro-pessimists and serial whingers.
So, in the words made immortal by the head of our political kindergarten… “apologise you bladdy agents”.
Forget about big bully FIFA and the fact that this World Cup was elitist to the extreme and that poor South Africans didn’t get much from it. This column is simply about South Africa’s ability to organise the biggest event on earth.
So, let’s look at those who said we couldn’t do it. Starting with the British tabloid newspapers that waged a brutal campaign against South Africa with scurrilous articles about English soccer fans running the risk of being hacked to death with pangas and telling everyone coming to South Africa to wear “knife proof” vests.
I suppose, like many former colonial masters, the “editors of these rags” just couldn’t bear the thought of seeing “darkies” successfully organising the world’s biggest event for a sport the Brits invented and which they probably believe in their own inimitable bigoted way, should only be hosted in civilised countries.
Apologise you bloody agents.
And then go and interview those thousands of English football fans who, contrary to your pathetic premonitions, not only behaved themselves impeccably but had a really good time out here.
‘Never a plan B’
Then there was the prime minister of one of the Australian states, the name of which I can’t be bothered to remember, who got on his soap-box a day or so after we won the bid and pompously announced to FIFA and the world that when South Africa stuffed things up Australia would be happy to step in and save the day. As General Blatter said recently, “there never was any plan B”.
The thousands of Australians, who visited South Africa for the World Cup and enjoyed themselves immensely, clearly did not agree with that particular opportunist idiot.
I know a lot of Australians will join me in saying to him, “apologise you bladdy agent”.
Then there was the United States government that decided with mind-boggling bad timing to issue a warning, just 10 days before the start of the World Cup, about the possibility of terror threats here.
Our own security people reacted with indignation and apart from the Zimbabwe government arresting two Pakistani “terrorists” on our border, not a damn thing happened. Those “terrorists” later turned out to be a couple of soccer fans desperately trying to get to the World Cup.
So come on America, apologise you bladdy agent.
Happily though, I have heard with delight and admiration, on a many a radio talk show these past two weeks, ordinary South Africans phoning in and saying things like; “I really didn’t believe we could pull it off but I must say I was wrong.” Those people are not bladdy agents but honourable people with the courage to stand up and admit they were wrong. And in doing so they are making a huge contribution to the future of this country.
But, there are still a lot of bladdy agents out there who will doggedly insist with increasing desperation, that the World Cup was the worst thing that has ever happened to this country.
They will rant on about the cock-up at Durban airport, the ticketing fiasco and the traffic jams in Joburg in an attempt to prove that the World Cup wasn’t a success at all.
They will use these excuses to try and cover up the fact that they are all feeling very sheepish about having been utterly and completely wrong.
After all, using these few mistakes to suggest that we failed, would be like cancelling a Miss World pageant because one of the beauty queens had a pimple on her arse.
Sure, there were problems, but these were small potatoes in the greater scheme of things.
There will also be those who say that because of crime and corruption we should not have hosted the World Cup. Right. Then there isn’t a country in the world that should.
I’m willing to bet that from now on in South Africa, trying to find someone who didn’t believe we could hold a successful soccer World Cup, will be like trying to find someone who actually voted for the Nats during the 40 years they were in power.
And don’t even mention anything about Vuvuzelas spoiling things. Those Vuvuzelas blasting away in the stadiums was just South Africa’s way of giving the finger to everyone in the world who thought we couldn’t do it. All I heard was a symphony in B-flat called; “Apologise you bladdy agents.”
One thing ordinary South Africans did prove during the past five weeks was that the majority believed we could do it and the bladdy pessimistic naysaying agents were very much in the minority.
And in future, we should not allow this tiny minority of moaning Minnie’s and doubting Thomases to sabotage our national self-esteem and deny us our pride in this wonderful country.
South Africa owes an enormous vote of thanks to those ordinary citizens, those millions of South Africans, who got into the spirit of the World Cup, who welcomed foreign tourists with joy and enthusiasm and who, for five glorious weeks, forgot all about crime, corruption and debt but just took time off to have an absolute ball. Which was so much more fun than sitting at home moaning and groaning like bladdy agents.
We also need to give a huge vote of thanks to all those policemen who gave up their holidays and free time and who guarded our visitors and the stadiums – who stood in the cold night after night smiling and helping.
And those thousands of volunteers who didn’t get to see any games, sometimes not even on television, but just wanted to be part of the great event and excelled themselves in helping, guiding and make life easier for us all. Not to mention local and foreign media that concentrated so much on the positive and gave this country more publicity than all the money in the world could buy.
I have probably omitted a lot of people who should be thanked and a lot who were behaving like bladdy agents. So, feel free to add your suggestions about who they are to the comments section below.
Only a few months ago I said that South Africa will over the next few years, profit from the World Cup. Again I was lambasted by the naysayers.
Now the media is full of experts pointing out just how much South Africa will benefit financially from the world cup.
So, I am sure that I speak on behalf of millions of South Africans when I invite those pessimists, naysayers and prophets of doom to: Apologise you bladdy agents.
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