Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Three tidbits on the world of African football from your hard-working friend at this blog, who's still wondering how he'll end up in Johannesburg for the Final.
- The crime situation in South Africa continues to be an issue as the World Cup Finals approach in three years time.
Data from the South African Police Service released on Tuesday showed murders, carjackings and bank robberies rose in South Africa in the past 12 months, dealing a blow to efforts to reduce one of the world's highest crime rates before the country hosts the Finals. The murder rate was up 2.4 percent in the 12 months ending March 31, 2007. There were 19,202 murders in that period, compared with 18,528 in the previous 12 months. Scary numbers.
The rise in certain types of violent crimes was a setback for police, who had targeted a 7 to 10 percent annual decrease for serious crimes.
South African officials noted, however, there had been a decrease in rapes, common robberies and several types of assault.
"The report on crime trends showed that crime levels in South Africa continue to drop. We are deeply concerned though that crime continues to be rife and that the crime rate continues to be high," Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula told a news conference after the report was released.
Africa's biggest economy is battling some of the worst crime rates in the world: some 50 people are murdered and around 150 women report being raped every day according to a report released in March by the Institute for Security Studies.
President Thabo Mbeki (above) has come under fire for playing down the problem although the government has vowed to crack down on criminals and to beef up security to stop violence from spoiling the World Cup.
The first African country to host the tournament, South Africa is expecting up to 3.5 million people to take part in the month-long event, with some 360,000 of them foreigners.
But the continent's economic powerhouse is battling perceptions it is an unsafe destination for tourists, particularly in the poor black townships on the edge of most cities.
Business leaders cite crime as one of the biggest deterrents to investment, and South Africa sent its security minister on a charm offensive in April to convince foreign investors the fight against crime is being won.
- Racism is a rampant social problem in the world of contemporary football.
Issues have recently erupted in Spain & Italy.
Cameroon and Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o has been in the eye of the storm, almost walking off the pitch last season at Real Zaragoza after incessant monkey noises were directed at him.
Eto'o today said players should walk off the pitch if they face racist abuse.
The 26-year-old is furious with lack of action on racism.
"Promises have been made for change - for sanctions to be enforced - but the first move needs to be made and it needs to be made by those who are being subjected to racism," he said.
"Part of me hopes that one day someone will manage to walk off the pitch in protest."
With the new season in Europe fast approaching Eto'o believes the general public also have a role to play in clamping down on the problem.
Eto'o said: "If we experience this in football it means our society is rotten and that means we're in a dangerous situation.
"That's what we need to be fighting against. I think that football is a small thing, but society - just imagine!
"I am treated first and foremost as a footballer, as Samuel Eto'o, but away from the cameras a black man is suffering from racism and nobody cares.
"That's the problem."
- Pele's back! Well, sort of.
Pele is one of more than 50 players of the past and present who will play in a special match in South Africa to honor Nelson Mandela's 89th birthday.
The "90 Minutes for Mandela" match will be played on July 18th at Cape Town's Newlands Stadium and see an African team take on a Rest Of The World side.
Legendary Brazil star Pele, 66, will play and be joined by Ruud Gullit, Samuel Eto'o and Christian Karembeu.
Should be a fun one ...