Soccer World Cup: Fifa keeping local organisers in line

2008-05-25 00:00

THE FNB breakfast on the opening morning is a Royal Show institution. The occasion typically provides the bank with a carte blanche platform, and this year it showcased its involvement with the 2010 World Cup.

As a third-tier sponsor, at a cool $30 million, FNB has a huge vested interest in the event coming off successfully. However, FNB’s sponsorship positively pales against the event’s impact on the credibility of the country, and indeed all South Africans, in what amounts to a huge collective responsibility.

Howard Arrand, FNB’s head of niche markets, expressed confidence in the local organising committee to pull it off. Putting his trust in the overwhelming power of Fifa, he said the chain of accountability yanks hard and well.

Arrand speaks with some authority on the matter, and to paraphrase his sentiment, “Fifa’s clout is felt all the way to a carpenter hanging doors in a dressing room”.

This is good news, especially given the avalanche of bad tidings that have exposed some horrific faultlines in the new South Africa.

As is the nature with perceptions, we are now unfairly collectively tainted as xenophobes by non-discerning audiences. The xenophobia — some say racism — is a particularly shameful manifestation of a deeper malady, that of government’s failure to deliver on the expectations it created in the electorate.

Countless other examples illustrate government’s insensitivity, lack of accountability and venality, perhaps most tellingly highlighted by its poor intelligence, not of the spooks-and-spies variety, but on the ground.

The xenophobia wrong-footed our esteemed leaders badly and yet, had they been in touch with their constituencies, they would have been aware of the smouldering powder keg.

The best the head honcho at the National Intelligence Agency could offer was to attribute the outbreak to a “third force”. Ye gods!

It is becoming clear that waiting on government for direction is a waste of time and civic interventions are needed to deal with this crisis, and others. Already in Durban, a church initiative is under way to redress some of the xenophobic damage. Who knows, maybe a new civic-mindedness is just the tonic we need to pull us clear of the quagmire we find ourselves in.

Litter torpor

ONE of the themes touched on by FNB’s Howard Arrand in his powerpoint presentation was parks in which fans would congregate to watch televised matches in 2010.

Pietermaritzburg harbours hopes of hosting such a fan park that evidently was a big hit at Germany 2006. Laudable as the notion is, we’d like to suggest a kick up the backside of the relevant officials to, well, kick-start it. Key is rallying residents and a good start would be to inculcate a culture of cleanliness and pride in the city.

A ream of computer print-outs adorned the Prestbury area for more than a week, ironically, where youngsters practice their soccer skills daily.

This is not only a matter for the municipal waste collection department, but also for residents in the area and commuters driving past it. Have we resigned ourselves to living in filth?

July Christmas

NOTICE is served that Nottingham Road is celebrating Christmas on the weekend of July 18 to 20.

The folk of the midlands will lay on excellent food, awesome views and comfortable accommodation to mark the unseasonal highlight, complete with an arts and crafts festival, Christmas tree with Santa, the Midlands Meander choir and loads of family fun.

Contact Nottingham Road Tourism for more information on 033 266 6308, or e-mail notts@bundunet.com.

Taxing matters

CONCERN has been raised that once the Tax Practitioners Bill becomes law, your tax consultant effectively will be working for SARS.

By law, they must report irregularities — which raises the unsavoury spectre of an advisor turning on you for an innocent mistake.

Cold comfort

WE confess to being confused by the Coke saga at the Royal Show following the RAS decision to accord rival Pepsi exclusive rights.

We have it on reliable authority that while the small bar fridge hiding in the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business kitchenette was unceremoniously liberated, other more visible Coke-branded fridges were left intact?

Bull run

THE sight of a charging bull down the alley separating the row of halls from some eateries at the Royal Show had special meaning for some restaurateurs.

Conceding it is early days yet, most are bullish about prospects this year in the wake of higher takings, some up 50%, over the first three days compared with 2007. “Let’s hope it indeed amounts to a bull run, and not a pile of manure,” one restaurateur noted dryly.

Happy eating

WE have had occasion twice in two days to sample the fare dished up by Hamblin’s Catering, in very different situations.

In both instances, the caterers rose to the challenge magnificently to more than exceed the expectations of guests. Moreover, the service was crisp, professional and friendly.

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