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The first African World Cup gets off to a roaring start – and a fan stampede. Did a body guard impregnate a Zuma wife? A Vuvuzela manufacturer hits big money. Toilet wars erupt near Cape Town. And will South Africa bid for the Olympics?
Top News: The month-long soccer World Cup kicked off at long last, putting a temporary halt to complaints about corruption and the cost of stadiums as proud South Africans partied with foreign fans.The first African World Cup had been attacked by critics over preparedness and crime in the lead-up to the event, but reviews were largely positive in the first weeks of the tournament, earning praise from FIFA and former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who said that South Africa had defied the critics.
There were shock upsets in the opening round, with previous finalists Italy and France both eliminated from the championships. African teams in general fared worse than many had hoped, with the exception of Ghana, which beat the U.S. team to advance from the round of 16. South Africa became the first host country to be eliminated in World Cup’s opening round, but fans took heart in Bafana Bafana’s strong performance in their final game victory over the troubled French team.
Nelson Mandela had been expected to attend the opening match of the World Cup, but pulled out after his great-granddaughter, Zenani, 13, was killed in a single-car crash while returning home from the official World Cup kickoff concert in Soweto.
The World Cup so far has not been without hitches, including the predictable theft from tourists and journalists, empty seats at opening round matches, strikes by stadium security guards and bus drivers and complaints over the vuvuzela horns that have become the unofficial soundtrack to the tournament. A group of blonde women in tight-fitting orange dresses were removed from Soweto’s Soccer City stadium during a Netherlands-Denmark game and accused of ambush marketing.A warm-up match between Nigeria and North Korea was blighted by a stampede in which fans and a police officer were injured. And at a match against Argentina, a few Nigerian fans complained after they were barred from brining green-painted chickens into the stadium.
In the days before the World Cup began, President Jacob Zuma’s personal life was again in the spotlight amid claims that one of his three wives, Nompumelelo Ntuli, had become pregnant after an affair with her bodyguard, who had later committed suicide. Her family reportedly gave a goat to Zuma’s family in April, a traditional ritual to apologize. Earlier this year, Zuma himself was caught out on having an affair, and admitted to having fathered a child with the daughter of a family friend.
Cape Town, meanwhile, has been caught up by the so-called “toilet wars,” a political battle over the provision of toilets in nearby Khayelitsha township. The Democratic Alliance-led Cape Town government had installed 1,265 toilets for families living in tin shacks without proper sanitation, with the expectation that residents would enclose the toilets themselves. But 51 of the toilets remained in the open air while residents continued to use them in full public view. This led to mudslinging between the DA and the African National Congress’s youth league, as well as protests and violent clashes, with youth league members tearing down enclosures that the DA-led city council had installed around the toilets.
Money: According to tourism officials and credit card company Visa, the World Cup has brought an “economic windfall” to South Africa. Visa reported that World Cup visitors had spent more than $128 million in South Africa in the first 20 days of June, up 54 percent from $83 million in the same period of 2009. South Africa Tourism said that the country is expected to pull in $3.6 billion from World Cup-related tourism.
One of the beneficiaries of the spending has been the manufacturer of the vuvuzela – the infamous South African horn that is loved and loathed. Sales have been booming for Cape Town-based manufacturer Masincedane Sport, which owns the trademark. The company recently reached an agreement with the Nazareth Baptist Church, known as Shembe. Vuvuzelas are said to be based on a holy horn use by Shembe in religious ceremonies.
However, not everyone is benefitting from the World Cup, with smaller host cities among those missing out on the boom. There are also growing concerns of a World Cup “hangover,” when the country and individual consumers will be faced with paying for the party. As well, employment opportunities may decline after the Cup, potentially sparking unrest.
Meanwhile, local companies lost an estimated $862,000 in a World Cup ticketing scam, while dozens of fans also lost money after purchasing match tickets through non-FIFA accredited agents.
Elsewhere: With the first few weeks of the World Cup coming off with only minor hitches, the country is already setting its sights higher. President Jacob Zuma has expressed interest in South Africa bidding to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, and IOC president Jacques Rogge said he would discuss the bid possibility with Zuma. Cape Town previously bid for the 2004 Olympics, which were won by Athens. Durban has been tagged as a future prospective host city.