SA man takes pity on stranded Argentinian fans

2010-06-15 16:52

A South African has taken pity on 60 Argentinian soccer fans who

were stranded because their sponsors had apparently failed to pay their expenses.

Channon Merricks, the managing director of the Soweto Focus Points

(SFP) – which has converted schools into lodgings for backpackers – was alerted

to the plight of the soccer fans after they were kicked out of Road Lodge in

Southgate, Johannesburg, on Thursday. They claim they had run out of money

because their sponsors, the Argentine Football Association (AFA), had failed to

release the funds.

Angus McMillan, spokesperson of Road Lodge, confirmed that the

Argentinians had to leave because their money had run out and the lodge was

fully booked. “They were well behaved and didn’t cause any trouble. They left

because other people had booked (accommodation).”

The group was picked up by a truck driver who dropped them at a

school in Soweto. The caretaker called Merricks who gave the visitors

accommodation at one of the schools run by SFP, even though they could not

afford to pay him.

“I might be losing money but the image of our country is more

important and we cannot leave these people stranded,” he said.

The fans told City Press – through a translator, Sheila Okwuosa –

that they had approached their embassy to intervene as some of the fans wanted

to return home.

When City Press visited the Argentinians in Klipspruit West,

Soweto, they were watching the game between Ivory Coast and Portugal (which ended in a goalless draw). One of

them, Nelson Duarte (51), was enjoying a South African beer.

Chazarreta Florencio (63), who has attended the World Cup four

times said: “The people here are warm and they treat us well.”

Another fan, Ricardo Alonso (62), said that even though they did

not have tickets for the match between his national team and Nigeria on

Saturday, security allowed them into the game after they played their drums and

sang outside the stadium.

They all vowed to come back and visit the country, saying it was



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