It’s hip to be Third World

2010-12-04 00:00

WHEN Fifa president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter announced on Thursday that Russia and Qatar will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively, I remembered when it was announced that we would be hosting the 2010 World Cup. I know what the tournament did for this country and the continent, not only when the announcement was made, but also when it was finally staged for the first time in Africa.

On Thursday afternoon, the eyes of the world were on Zurich in Switzerland, where the hosts for the biggest sporting spectacle in the world were to be announced, amid tension and fanfare.

Ultimately, Fifa sent a strong message to the developed world that their time has come and gone and the next few years will be dedicated to developing the “game of billions” in developing countries.

Blatter’s achievements during his tenure as president of Fifa far exceed those of any of his predecessors as he has truly given the sport a new meaning.

It is under his leadership that Fifa took the World Cup to Korea and Japan in 2006. He tried to get the World Cup to Africa earlier but failed, thanks to the late Charles Dempsey from Australasia, when South Africa lost their first bid to Germany in 2006. We finally secured the tournament for 2010, and in a few weeks we will be saying goodbye to a year that has brought this country so much — a recession that was offset, somewhat, by the World Cup.

In 2014, all roads will lead to Brazil in South America as the tournament returns to the continent after 36 years since it was hosted by

Argentina. Why would South Korea want to host a World Cup when they hosted it just eight years ago, as did the United States of America in 1994?

While Russia will be hosting the games for the first time, so will the Middle East. Blatter has taken what in the past has been a public-relations dream and turned it into reality — making football a global game.

By choosing first-time hosts, he is making sure that the infrastructure that is needed for the game is developed across the world, which will strengthen the global presence of the product that Fifa sells — the game of football.

It is a pity that the English media are sore losers and that following their unsuccessful bid on Thursday, they have cried foul with regard to Fifa’s voting system. If they are going to survive and stay relevant in this ever-changing world, they will have to lose their “holier than thou” attitude. The United States and Australia need to do the same.

They also have to accept, however difficult it may be, that they have become somewhat irrelevant. We are living in a time where it is hip to be Third World and lacking in infrastructure, while it is uncool to be First World with adequate resources.

The countries that were rejected all had more than enough infrastructure, while the winners have to build more stadia than they have.

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