Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Double Disaster Taints Fragile Image of African Football

This one comes in from the man I like to call my 'Eyes & Ears' in Africa.
He's Mark Gleeson and a well-known, respected journalist from Reuters.
No, I don't know the man personally. But if anyone in the cyberworld does and wants to use my previous post regarding 6 Degrees of Separation as inspiration to introduce us, please do so!
I'd love to chat with the man over a coffee and learn from him ...

Until then, here's a piece he wrote today regarding the recent football disasters that have occured on the continent. Some of the positive vibes surrounding the World Cup are being extinguished, according to Gleeson.

The continent needs the World Cup & I believe the world needs it to be a success.
Here's the article:

Double disaster taints image of African football
By Mark Gleeson

JOHANNESBURG, June 5 (Reuters) - Two football related disasters in Africa at the weekend have set back efforts to project a positive image of the 2010 World Cup finals.

Twelve people died in a stampede at the end of an African Nations Cup qualifier in Zambia on Saturday, followed 24 hours later by the death of 23 supporters, including Togo's sports minister, in a helicopter crash in Sierra Leone.
The disaster in Zambia was the second such incident in a decade in a country that is being earmarked to host peripheral activities before and during the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Three children were among the dead after spectators stampeded through a narrow exit at the Konkola stadium in Chililabombwe, where Zambia had beaten Congo, in order to get to free buses. More than 40 were also injured.

In Freetown, Togo sports minister Tata Avlessi Adaglo and 21 supporters died when the helicopter ferrying them on a seven minute flight from the Sierra Leone capital to the airport crashed.
Togo had beaten Sierra Leone 1-0 in their Nations Cup qualifier.

The two disasters follow closely on a bid by FIFA and the South African organisers to lay to rest doubts over the country's ability to host the finals, the first major sporting event of its kind on the African continent.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter last week used the FIFA Congress in Zurich to show support for South Africa saying: "The World Cup is staying in Africa, there is absolutely no problem about this.

"It is staying in South Africa. Plan A is South Africa, Plan B is South Africa, Plan C is South Africa and Plan D is South Africa."


South Africa 2010 Local Organising Committee chief executive officer Danny Jordaan said the country had to accept that Africa's colonial legacy was always going to leave its ability open to question.

"Africa has never had a chance before to show what it can do and as a result there will always be doubters who expect us to fail. There is nothing we can do to change their minds until they see a well organised event in 2010.

"In the mean time we have to learn to live with the constant speculation about our ability," he told Reuters.
Jordaan has been pushing FIFA in recent months to allow more World Cup activities to take place in other countries in the southern African region, including Zambia.

FIFA has already hinted they would accept a change of rules that would allow teams to stay in neighbouring countries before matches at the World Cup finals.
Southern African countries are also expected to host a raft of pre-tournament friendlies in May 2009.

But Zambia's participation will now be in doubt.

The main stadium in the capital Lusaka has been closed because of its dilapidated state. Future use of the alternative venue in Chililabombwe, on the country's Copperbelt close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, is now expected to come under close scrutiny.

In recent weeks, FIFA officials have been travelling throughout Africa inspecting stadiums before the start of qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup finals.

FIFA last year warned that venues that were not safe enough would be prohibited from hosting World Cup qualifiers.


Bancha said...

On footie's role as a cultural and political barometer of sorts, again, the US is left completely out of the loop.

Cesar said...

This piece of news was buried in the newspapers around the States, somewhere before the Life section and after news about Paris Hilton ... it's very sad and you're quite right.
No one in the States gets how important footie is to people around the world.

Anonymous said...

Aren't Zambia and South Africa two completely different countries?

Cesar said...

Yes, they are. The article is talking about events that took place in the whole of the continent.
Also, Zambia is slated to hold some events before & during the World Cup.