Some of you may be aware of the African Cup of Nations 2013 that has just got under way. It is a football tournament that is being staged in South Africa featuring various African national teams. Yes, I say “staged” and not hosted, because it is basically just an expensive show and Afcon is just an abbreviation for another African con.
African countries have lured some of their incredibly talented players briefly back from the English Premier League and Europe to Africa to play for their nation of origin. These players generally earn more than the gross GDP of many African countries and are not hauled back easily. They must be threatened with the removal of honorary doctorates and chieftainships and cajoled with vast tracts of the best farmland and airports named after them.
Those familiar with football can look forward to great names from the English Premier League and certain Dutch, Spanish, German and Italian leagues, all blissfully unaware that there are ten other players on their national teams, trying to earn huge million dollar bonuses for each goal they score. Those familiar with football will see eleven glory-boys, each trying to keep as much possession of the football as possible, with an eye on a more lucrative European contract, and not the slightest concern for their national colours.
The tournament will doubtless cost the South African economy billions and won’t make so much as a Zimbabwean dollar in profit. But numerous African dignitaries will be thrilled to go for a spin in their new jets and depart, waving at the grinning little local faces, lured with a free T-shirt and orange juice to the side of the runway.
When they arrive in South Africa, they will be greeted by yet more emaciated yet strangely happy faces, all wearing their new green, yellow and black T-shirts bearing the famous grinning countenance of the world’s most infamous herdboy, wiping away crumbs from their free sandwiches. Cheering crowds will welcome tin-pot dictators with the sort of fervour usually reserved by Catholics for the Pope.
Players who earn more in an hour than the average family earns in a year will be worshipped, despite the fact that the tournament only brings more debt to the local economy.
Those pricey stadiums built for the FIFA World Cup have been dusted off, sprayed with air-freshener and given a good polish.
And all this for what? A few days’ entertainment that will chew and swallow another chunk of money that could have built houses, fed the poor or bought endless pairs of soccer boots for under-privileged kids?
It is simply another flabbergasting waste of money that will bring absolutely no return to its host nation while sucking money out of its budget like a mosquito sucks the blood from its host.
Frankly, it is a disgusting affair, this African con Afcon 2013.