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FIFA's vote of no confidence in South Africa's politicians

It is very important that FIFA's identification (at this late stage) of three countries as alternative hosts (to South Africa) of the FIFA World Football Cup 2010 be seen for what it is, namely a vote of no confidence in the politics of the country.

It reflects a view that South Africa's political situation has become volatile, that it is growing more volatile by the day, and that it has become impossible to say whether the "new political dispensation" (to take over in March 2009) will be stable and "world-friendly" enough to ensure a successful FIFA World Cup in 2010.

As such, the FIFA move must embarrass the politicians of South Africa.

The official explanation for the move to line up three alternative hosts (which was confirmed by FIFA president Joseph Blatter this week) is that it's a normal precaution to cover the situation of a natural disaster occurring (eg. an earthquake). That can simply not be true. Every good manager will take that kind of precaution at the time the host is first nominated, or shortly thereafter. And not shortly before the event is to take place.

After all, the idea with the alternatives is to remove risk for FIFA. And this is not achieved by waiting until 24 months before the event to search for alternative hosts.

An article in today's Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) leaves the impression that Blatter wanted to increase pressure on South Africa to speed up preparations (including the building of the stadiums). That is also not correct. This has little to do with being ready on time. South Africa will be ready on time. This is not the first World Cup sport event we've organised. A country able to excavate gold kilometers deep, is able to build a "little" structure on the ground to house 80,000 spectators - don't worry about that.

No, no. The whole episode is confirmation from an unexpected quarter that the politics of South Africa has taken a turn for the worse.

As I said before, these are the years of living dangerously in South Africa.
11.7.08 10:04


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