Afcon organisers have dropped the ball

2013-01-27 10:00

To say the organisation of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) is a shambles, would be an understatement.

It’s an utter disgrace!

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) could have done brilliantly. Instead, it’s putting our country on the map again, but headed the wrong way.

What has been witnessed at different venues has been nothing but a disgrace to the country. It’s diabolical!

But what did we expect from people without any football background, let alone event-organising experience?

This is a major occasion for the continent, but it’s been treated like a third-grade tournament.

After successfully hosting the World Cup in 2010, African people expected better organisation than what they have been exposed to at Afcon tournaments in the past.

But warning signs have always been there, with poor ticket sales being the main one. No wonder stadiums look empty.

No one knows what is going on and the volunteers are clueless most of the time. They have not been trained and most are like statues.

Durban is a prime example.

Firstly, there are no signs to direct people and translators have been useless throughout the tournament, to the extent that some press conferences have been farcical.

And, as is now the norm, playing the blame game is the order of the day.

Journos were sent from pillar to post for an Angolan press conference in Durban.

After the time of the conference was changed and rescheduled, the Angolan coach and captain arrived at the venue only to be told that it was not booked for their conference.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials then tried to bribe journalists with free lunch as a goodwill gesture and as a way of apologising, but the damage was done.

Few of the tournament’s translators seem to understand the unique language of football.

It is a nightmare for both the coaches and the journos, whose job it is to make sense of what is being said, to quote people accurately and to inform readers, viewers and listeners of what’s really going on.

As if that was not enough, the translators, at times, need to be retold what was said as their first translation was so far off the mark.

Even their second attempts were painful.

It was a circus after the Morocco vs Cape Verde match.

At one point, the Moroccan coach had to interject in English, translating for himself. The translator was lost for words.

At the same conference, a translator had to be changed without notice to avoid further embarrassment.

There is no short cut to success and the organising committee should have spent money to get the best translators available.

Football is a specialised field with unique terms and just speaking a foreign language is not good enough.

Translators should understand football terms and be able to translate the coaches and players’ quotes accurately.

I am told things were also dismal in Rustenburg, where Ivory Coast defender Kolo Touré had to speak in both English and French after realising he was being misquoted.

Port Elizabeth was the same.

But don’t blame it on the poor translators. I guess they were trying to help.

The LOC is to blame, period.

The organisation has been poor and this does not put the country in good stead.

This was an opportunity for the country to once again shine on the bigger stage, but instead it has dropped the ball.

It will lead to accusations that we treat the continent like a stepchild and world football governing Fifa like a big brother.

CAF officials were also not playing ball. They were just happy to be seen hanging around in their blue suits.

The media have been treated like nobodies.

How do you expect us to give good coverage when we don’t even have work stations, as was the case in the opening game at the National Stadium?

But this is what you should expect when you have a bunch of clueless people running the show, as all they are interested in is to beef up their CVs. They are not concerned about the image of the country.

How do you play all the crowd-pulling matches early, as was the case with Mali vs Ghana, Nigeria vs Zambia, South Africa vs Angola and Ivory Coast vs Togo?

They should have been more flexible, knowing that people would get to the stadiums later, after work.

Well done LOC for taking us backwards.

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