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We’re going to get into the thick of a lot of heated discussions and that’s okay. These discussions often entail topics that we all personally care a lot about and will passionately defend. But in order for discussions to thrive here, we need to remember to criticize ideas, not people. Continue Reading “Comment rules”

South Africa 2010 memorable moments.

The FIFA world cup in South Africa has come and gone. South Africans were good hosts, and they made the continent proud. FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, described the quintessence of the tournament;

"It was a World Cup on a new continent with a new culture and therefore it must be analysed on different levels, but if you look at the enthusiasm in Africa and also the repercussion in the world, if you look to the television audiences around the world, if you look to the fan-fests everywhere in the world then I have to say it was a special World Cup. All these fan-fests were not only because it was football but specifically because it comes from Africa. I cannot make a ranking of the World Cup but it was a very attractive World Cup and for me it was also a very emotional World Cup."

Nelson Mandela, the South African icon, briefly bade farewell to millions of spectators world wide at the closing ceremony. It was a priceless moment!

The Guardian gave 10 compelling reasons to remember the tournament in South Africa.

Forget the Kung fu fighting that plagued the final between Spain and Holland. Spain was the better team, and rightly so.

Bloemfontein meets Wembley. Do we need to change anything ?

Bloemfontein goal

Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images

A Referee is expected to be impartial and fair in carrying out his duty on the field. As the invincible man, his “objective” judgment has far-reaching consequences for players, officials and spectators.

The match between England and Germany in Bloemfontein, was marred by the referee who failed to award a goal to England, although it was glaring that the ball crossed the goal line. it was history repeating itself, this time in reverse. Bloemfontein meets Wembley.

Hours later, Argentina played against Mexico. A offside goal was awarded to Argentina by the referee, who made an error of judgment.

The human errors from both matches have renewed calls for the introduction of technology in football. The mounting criticism of referees in South Africa indicate a big divide between expectation and reality. In my view, that is what football and life is all about.

Despite the high expectations we place on ourselves as human beings, in reality, we are not without flaws. Likewise, the teams on the field might expect to do their best on the field, only to realize that their best might not good enough. In a game of winner takes it all, the opposing team could either dash your expectations or confirm the reality that you are a winner.

The game of football enthuse passion because of the human element that is inherent in the sport. It is drama and suspense all in one.

Supporters for the introduction of modern technology in football like video evidence or football chip fail to understand the global nature of football. There is no other sport that attracts great interest from Timbuktu to London than football. It is the first globalized sport before globalization became a buzz word

Football in its rudimentary level  is not expensive. All you need is a pitch and the famous ball. The low-level of entry makes it attractive to both the rich and poor.

The harsh critics of football san technology are mostly from the west. Dr Markus Merk, a former FIFA referee, who i hold in high esteem, even suggested in an interview with FAZ that the three parties i.e the teams and the referee should have a maximum of 2 veto rights per game, where video evidence could be used. He added that we are living in the 21st century.

Yes, we are living in the 21st century, but in some parts of the world, many can not boast of constant drinking water or electricity. How do they expect those who do not live in the west to partake in the game ? Do not be deceived by the stadiums in South Africa for the world cup. They are not a reflection of the real football pitches in Africa and else where.

The preliminary rounds in the group games was not without controversy. Mali’s Koman Coulibaly, faced a barrage of attacks in the match between Slovenia and USA. He disallowed an obvious goal for America. I wonder what he saw or his interpretation of the scene.

Given that i am not privy to his match report, i will not quickly accuse him of incompetence.However, Deutsche Welle, summed up his performance:

Lacking the day-in-day-out challenge of calling games and feeling the consequent pressure at the highest level – and by that I mean Europe or the top leagues in the Americas (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico) – the likes of Coulibaly are simply not to be trusted at the World Cup. That they often fail is not their fault – it’s the biggest game they’ve ever called, and they are overwhelmed by the situation.

The writer had the temerity to suggest a radical  approach:

Maybe a referee from an outlier country should have to apprentice in a top league for at least a year, or call some minimum number of games there, before he is eligible for the World Cup. At the very least there needs to be a radical expansion of existing referee exchange programs that bring officials from football’s smaller federations to the big leagues to shadow referees. And those Bangladeshi and Namibian referees need to be put into league games too, once they’re ready.

The referee who made a rudimentary mistake in the Argentina versus Mexico clash is Roberto Rosetti from Italy. Jorge Larrionda from Uruguay was in charge of the Germany versus England clash. Therefore, the assertion that only those in top leagues should officiate top FIFA games is ludicrous and condescending.

It makes me wonder if we have different rules for football in so-called “developing” countries and “developed” countries.

The “football family” as Sepp Blatter like to call it, should remember that as a family, we might have issues, but we should treat each other with respect and dignity, irrespective of our expectation and reality.


Jabulani and Vuvuzela takes center stage as the world cup begins in South Africa.


When referee Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan, blast the whistle on Friday to commence the world cup as host South Africa play against Mexico, all eyes and ears would be focused on the Jabulani and Vuvuzela in equal measure. Because the Jabulani and Vuvuzela could define the world cup moments in South Africa.

Jabulani is the special FIFA world cup ball produced by Adidas for tournament. The ball has attracted lots of criticisms from players. Adidas replied critics that the ball was tested and approved.

Criticism of the world cup ball is as old as the tournament. Klaus Wille of Der Westen believes it is much ado about nothing. He wrote, “the Jabulani is a ball that has the latest technology of all times.” He remembered there were also criticism of Etrusco Unico, the world cup ball that was used in Italy ‘90.

Vuvuzela is like a horn that is popularly used in South Africa during football matches.This is South Africa is calling for a world wide Vuvuzela flash mob on Friday.

Some of the teams in South Africa are not amused about the Vuvuzela. They complain that the “noise” from the Vuvuzela distorts concentration and communication on the field.

No matter the criticisms of the coming world cup in South Africa, Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon sums up the views of Africans this way:

"Most people only see Africa in terms of poverty and war, famine and disease. But this World Cup gives us the chance to show something different. I think the whole world is going to be really surprised by Africa. This could be the best World Cup in history."

I hope his prediction comes to fruition.

Picture:courtesy of Adidas

What is your prediction for the world cup ?

Who can look in to the crystal ball and accurately predict the outcome of the world cup in South Africa ? Many bookmakers predict the usual heavy weights in international soccer like Germany, Brazil, Italy or Argentina to win the cup.

Wall street firms like JP Morgan,Goldman Sachs, and UBS, perhaps not to be left out in the prediction game, have also published potential winners too. Time, writer, Tony Karon, wrote;

“For institutions focused on predicting global trends, the bankers’ prognostications are unusually backward-looking — and, unfortunately, rather Eurocentric.”

Is there a possibility for an African team to be in  the final ?

The tournament in South Africa will not be easy for African teams. Although it is taking place on African soil, the African teams are not organized. The impact of the hurriedly appointed managers like Lars Lagerbäck for Nigeria or Sven-Göran Eriksson for Ivory Coast could be marginal.

Baring any surprises, Brazil look poised to win the cup for the 6th time. I hope other teams in the tournament prove me wrong.

Sepp Blatter grouse over Zurich and profess his love for Africa.

The evidence

Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president who is not new to controversy has publicly admitted in a poster that Zurich in Switzerland, is boring while Africa has rhythm, life ,dance, music and ability to dream. His statement has ruffled some feathers in Zurich.

A Swiss citizen reporter for Switzerland paper, 20 Minuten,saw the poster while touring the new world cup stadium in Cape town, South Africa.

The city of Zurich and FIFA have a cordial relationship dating back to 1932. The state president of Zurich, Corine Mauch ,said a while ago, “Blatter and FIFA carry the name of Zurich worldwide and they make priceless advertisement for the city.” Many in Zurich now wonder why Sepp Blatter made an apparent faux pas in his statement.

Sepp Blatter has been fascinated about Africa ever since he worked as development aid director for FIFA in Addis Abeba,Ethiopia in 1976.

The world cup in South Africa is arguably Sepp Blatter’s hour. He has a score to settle. He wants to prove critics of Africa wrong.

During the confederation cup in South Africa, many Europeans complained that vuvuzela was irritating. The FIFA president defended the vuvuzela based on cultural relativism when he said, “that is what African and South Africa football is all about noise, excitement, dancing, shouting and enjoyment “

The U-17 FIFA 2009 tournament in Nigeria was mired by allegations of age cheating. Age cheating is a reoccurring phenomenon in FIFA age grade events. A certain Fortune Chukwudi,who was the captain of the Nigerian team was accused by Adokiye Amesimaka of age cheating.

At a press conference in Nigeria, Sepp Blatter questioned the timing of the allegation. He added “The tournament will do well without many people making Africa or Nigeria look bad because of rumors over age cheat. Why only Nigeria and not the other countries?”

The Africa nations cup that took place in Angola this year began on a sad note after the shooting of Togolese players and officials in Cabinda. As usual, it was the best platform for critics of FIFA to raise doubts about the world cup in South Africa.

Uli Hoeness, the powerful president of Bayern Munich, said awarding the tournament to South Africa was“the biggest wrong decision” by Fifa. Blatter did not mince words when he replied, “It’s an anti-Africa prejudice. There is still in the so-called ‘old world’ a feeling that why the hell should Africa organize a World Cup.”

He went on,”I think it’s a nonsense to combine what has happened in Angola, a terrorist attack for political reasons, and mix it up with the World Cup in South Africa. He had the chutzpah to call European critics colonialist who treat Africa with no respect

Sepp Blatter is the most pro Africa FIFA president of all times. He danced at the presentation of the official FIFA ball for the world cup named “Jabulani”( a Zulu word for celebrate),in Cape town last December.

Africans regard him as an ally. He continues to stick his neck out for Africa despite the anti-European label from the west. Blatter has been honored in many African countries. He holds the highest South African medal of honor, the “Order of Good Hope”. Liberia under Charles Taylor,awarded Blatter, Liberia’s highest honor, the “Humane Order of African Redemption “

Zurich, with a population of almost 350,000 is clearly a small city in comparison to FIFA’s clout world wide. May be Blatter, who is from Wallis, feels Zurich has become provincial for his liking because of his international exposure.

Zurich also known as Limmatstadt is not completely boring. It has churches, museums and lots more.

In the fiscal year 2009, FIFA earned 1,059 billion dollars as revenue. They spent 863 million dollars as expenditure. Thereby making 210 million Swiss Francs as annual net income. FIFA has a special privilege in Zurich because they pay little or no tax. Zurich needs FIFA just like FIFA needs Zurich.

Given the ripples from Blatter’s comment in Switzerland, FIFA issued a statement after inquiry from 20 minuten online, that “the FIFA president is happy to be in Zurich.”

The outcome of the South Africa world cup will determine the future of Blatter as FIFA president. Blatter is interested to vie for a fourth term as FIFA president. Already UEFA president Michel Platini and Asian football functionary Mohammed Bin Hammam from Qatar are waiting in the wings

Blatter has made the hosting of the world cup possible on African soil. Are the African teams ready to showcase the beauty of African football ?

If African teams want to make meaningful impact in South Africa, they will have to do more than “Wavin’ Flag” like K’naan.

Blatter’s pitch ever since he was labeled euro sceptic is simple: he is working for the ‘entire football family.’ It is a philosophy based on a sense of altruism.

When the “jabulani” takes center stage in South Africa and electrify the world, it wont be boring in Zurich or Africa. Rather, it would be a celebration of the beautiful game that unite us all.

Credits-Pictures courtesy of 20 Minuten