World Cup Update From South African Based City Fan
Mike Robinson aka Mariner, a Manchester City supporter based in South Africa sent Vital MC the following World Cup update.
The stadiums are in place and deserve to rank amongst some of the best in the world, with the Durban complex complete with an iconic arch certainly the most spectacular.
Infrastructure around the stadiums is complete but the work has been at the expense of the rest of the City with potholes galore, malfunctioning traffic lights and dirty streets. Hopefully there will be a clean up before the big day.
Bafana-Bafana after training camps in Brazil (the coach Carlos Parreira hails from there so this was a good paid holiday for him) and Germany are now back in South Africa and the European based players, amongst them Steve Pienaar, Aaron Mokoena and Benni McCarthy are joining. The latter is still overweight, unfit and seems to think that SA owe him a place, but unless his finger is extracted rapidly this seems doubtful.
In the most recent warm up games the host nation drew with Namibia 1-1 in a very poor game, but following the cancellation of a game against China has just beaten Thailand 4-0 which was a welcome improvement on the goal scoring front.
Here in South Africa the workforce has been treated pretty badly, wage and condition wise for some years now and have obviously seen the impending World Cup as a chance to put pressure on employers and the Government. Transnet (harbours etc) workers have now been out on strike for eleven days and all SA's ports are at a standstill at very heavy economic cost and Metro rail employees have followed suit with no trains running country wide since last Monday. Wage offers of 8% have been turned down with the unions demanding 15%, but today there are some signs of agreement being concluded in the port strike.
FIFA appear to be running this event like the Mafia. Nobody without a FIFA permit can do any World Cup related business with the relevant permit and these cost big bucks - certainly much more than local small business's can afford. One popular pub close to the ground has been told that they must either pay R50,000 or close down for the duration and anyway, only FIFA sponsored beer can be sold.
Pubs that wish to show the games on TV must pay R25,000 for the privilege - again well out of their range. It would appear that effectively the running of local business has been handed over to FIFA for the duration. They will make huge amounts of money at the expense of the locals. (Bastards!)
There are also rumours of Al Quaeda threats especially aimed at sensitive games such as the US-England match, but personally I think this is scare mongering in a big way - Al Quaeda do not advertise in advance.
Hopefully a successful and enjoyable World Cup and may the best British team win.
Further updates from Mike will follow.