Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Making South Africa's World Cup More South African

This piece from The New York Times looks at how South Africans have pushed against the corporate bent of the FIFA World Cup to make it a little more accessible to its people.

“This is not our World Cup,” explained Greg Fredericks, a senior manager for South Africa’s World Cup organizing committee. He noted the dominant role of FIFA, soccer’s Zurich-based world governing body. “It is FIFA’s World Cup. We are just the organizers. We are the stage.”

That might have been the end of the story, except that this is South Africa, the country that ended a vicious system of racial segregation 16 years ago to create a noisy, fractious, vibrant democracy. Poking a finger in the eye of authority is part of the national DNA.

And so South Africans have pushed back — to get easier access to tickets, to see their wealth of musicians included in the FIFA concert and to ensure that more World Cup souvenirs were made in South Africa. Along the way, they have won modest victories that will give the slickly marketed, corporate-branded, monthlong sports spectacular splashes of African authenticity.

South Africa Pushes to Make the Cup Its Own
The New York Times
May 23, 2010