Paparazzi will also be here to bag their prey

2010-05-09 10:45

WAGs are not the

only British imports expected in South Africa for the 2010 Fifa World Cup –


paparazzi will be hot on their ­stiletto heels.

“Let me put it this way: the only thing bigger than the soccer is

the WAGs (footballers’ wives and girlfriends),” says Eddie van der Walt, a South

African who works as a paparazzo in the UK.

He will be based in Rustenburg during the English team’s stay,

hoping to catch the WAGs – and the English fans – at their worst.

“We expect a bit of trouble from soccer hooligans,” he says.

But it’s the “top-tier” celebrity wives who will attract the most

attention (see box).

A set of pictures of Victoria Beckham would earn a paparazzo enough

to cover his/her World Cup expenses, says Van der Walt. But he expects to see

fewer paparazzi in South Africa than there were in Germany in 2006 because of

security concerns.

“I shot pics of Madonna last Friday – taking a walk down the

street. You won’t get that in South Africa. Celebrities will be worried about


“Their hotels will be better guarded.”

In the UK, he says, it’s every young girl’s dream to become a WAG.

“They queue outside nightclubs in ridiculously small outfits hoping

to bag a footballer.”

Are sport stars bigger than ­royalty?

“(Prince) William and Harry are out of reach for a girl growing up

in Essex (the UK equivalent of Welkom in the Free State),” says Van der Walt.

“Life as a WAG is brilliant. They don’t have to do anything for the rest of

their lives. Their career is to shop.”

And it pays very well. “They’ve turned it into an industry. Here, a

news event has not happened until a celebrity has said it has.

“On any given day at least three national (UK) papers have a

celebrity story on the front page.”

Van der Walt says celebrities often tip them off about their

whereabouts. “But the real story is the 10% they don’t want you to see.

Celebrities want us to think they’re really nice people. We expose the


Despite this, he says the relationship between celebs and the

paparazzi is not as hostile as it is portrayed by some media.

In some cases celebrities even get a cut from the photographs. It

works well. “They pretend to hate us and we pretend to care.”


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