“F*** 2010 World Cup”

So enveloping, so ever present, the shirt of the fan. A child soldier in Sierra Leone (hardly ten years old) was captured in a television documentary with a blue number seven Chelsea shirt with the name of Lampard on the back. A Somali “pirate” with a Manchester United shirt was also seen walking in chains on a cargo ship after a failed attempt to reclaim African marine space. Such is the power!
 
The beautiful game of soccer, poetry in motion, returns to Africa — this time as a spectacle to entertain and make money. Soccer is not just a game with two teams of 11 players. It is not just about goal scores. This poetry in motion is a game that is brought out of deprivation. You need not buy special bats, rackets, complicated nets and the likes. A game essentially requires large numbers of people participating, a field and one ball.
 
This draws crowds of poor communities towards the game because with some imagination a soccer ball can be made out of plastic bags, the goal posts out of two stones and any dirt area can serve as a field.
 

Soccer forms part of a culture in poor African communities

Historically, black people are the poorest in South Africa, and this remains so. It follows then that the players, as well as its sport lovers, will be largely black. This is no secret to communities, the government and big business. And with the 2010 World Cup coming to our shores, it is important to tone down the vuvuzela blasts, silence the festive ululations and put down the big dark sunglasses for a moment. This is so that we can pay attention to the state of our soccerised land and what it means for the black majority in this country.
 
Soccer creates not just the black players and fans but entertainment. Who can deny the entertainment value of Pule ‘Ace’ Ntsoelengoe or the Maradonas of this world? Who can deny the entertainment of the soccer masses singing particular tunes in honour of individual players, a particular team or soccer in general? The entertainment is not exclusive to those who watch professional games at the stadium but also includes those who play and cheer at home, on the streets and in local drinking holes.
 
In this way, soccer also produces a culture. There are chosen greetings, songs, symbols of teams and the likes that must be learnt. A halfway decent Orlando Pirates fan will buy a t-shirt, a key ring, paint their house in the colours of the team, watch the games or at least listen to it.
 
They may have grown up in a particular community or gone to a certain school on the road to being a soccer lover or a fan. For others it is a chance love for a certain team or a great love that introduced you to the game. This creates the fantasy of a soccerised community, a bonding place outside reality where one has friends and enemies because of the competitive nature of the sport. It is not just the teams that compete but the fans as well. Soccer is Generations, Scandal, Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful. It is the news, Jika-Majika and Cheaters all in one.
 
It has a partly honorable and partly heartbreaking routine. There are the great tragedies and the greatest moments. Soccer renders the service of moving the feelings of the public. Soccer produces those moments where adults readily cry tears of joy or beat each other up over a score.
 
For 90 minutes or more, one can be entertained and not have to think about the reality that they live. In this way, it acts very much like a narcotic drug such as opium. A narcotic is a drug that relieves pain and slows the body’s central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord). A narcotic may do a number of things. It may numb your senses. It can cause a little sleepiness in one person while putting another in a coma.
 
Narcotics also produce material and mental thieves; thieves who would take their last food money for an addiction. This can only happen if one essentially lies to self about the situation that will arise when food is needed. A person will know that they are in a kak situation but would rather not face it just yet.
 

Anything that keeps us from organizing for freedom is a problem

Soccer, being a choice drug of the masses, screws up our brains by keeping us away from thinking, planning and organizing to change our situation. It basically makes us spineless people who fear to challenge the big lie that has been force-fed on us as a collective truth. That obscene lie of our rainbow times that makes blacks the ultimate undesirables who must be exploited for the greater benefit of our oppressors.
 
This big lie makes as if it is natural for blacks in this country to build the stadiums that make the profits for a white minority. This white privilege is maintained of course with the help of the hired help who are given tenders and crumbs in exchange for a blanket suffering of blacks in this country.
 
This is not a secret because the visible scars of oppression mark black bodies in every other social, political and economic space. Soccer is then a useful tool in focusing our energies towards making a success of a “black” sport that has enjoyed little legitimization in the past. Was this same black sport not used in the 1970s in order to make the world believe that all was well in our “separatist” arrangement? We take such pride in our ability to have black sports that we are oblivious to the fact that it makes us complacent and lazy for our own liberation.
 
The black condition currently is a disaster zone. We have arrived here because of organised brutalization to create South Africa’s white modernity. Our country’s relative development is harvested from violence against blacks and sustained on the same logic and practice.
 
Soccer is more than just mental thievery. We know that soccer also instructs how the material conditions of blacks are. We know that soccer is largely about those money-grabbing gangs that operate efficiently from the sweat of black labour. It produces different lines of business. Why else would a bank want to sponsor a soccer tournament if there are no profits for it?
 

The 2010 Soccer World Cup will bring no relief for oppressed African masses

The 2010 Soccer World Cup is a great thing for big business but we are told the soccerised nation will benefit greatly. Radio stations, billboards, newspaper articles and television interviews tell us as much. Our politicians, teachers, Fifa and Danny Jordaan say so. Even your local cell phone giants are in on this feeling. This great Messiah that is 2010 will cement our arrival to what they call a global village.
 
The 2010 Cup is sold as a signifier of a fundamental cementing of South Africa’s arrival to whiteness. What it will also cement is the business as usual art of creating more and more anti-black and anti-poor tactics.
 
We will arrive in this village with our hardworking red ants who paved the way by evicting black bodies from property so that we can have our fancy stadiums. We will get there with our efficient BRT transport system that whooshes past matchbox houses that have been built to hide the filth of a squatter camp.
 
The global village will shake hands with the judges that sign eviction orders for blacks to be dumped into a squatter camp so that a golf estate can be built for foreign tourists. This blatant truth is our public secret. It is these shared open secrets that uphold the social and political bodies that benefit from the silences about black life. We fall silent, feed on denial and turn a blind eye to the repulsive state of affairs.
 
2010 will only do what the soccer industry has been practicing in South Africa for a long time. It will continue to put money in the pockets of Coca Cola and other big businesses (FIFA, of course, being the top beneficiary). The spotlight now is on South Africa being able to trade this commodity in the market. They are doing well so far for all the construction companies, financial institutions and those who own private property.
 
The security industry is thriving because the “crime-infested barbarians” must be kept away from the fearful tourists. Even some black South Africans are convinced that any measures necessary must be used to protect the white foreigners. Have you noticed how the government has increased its calls to the police to “shoot to kill” in recent months? And we know these are niggers they’re ordering to get killed.
 
So, we are open for business. We mimic what the Baas does with specific care. All of a sudden, we can take tourists on tours around our favorite taverns, and with the hope of money at the end of the deal. The 2010 deal is (from the biggest fan right down to those who feel indifferent about soccer per say) an opportunity for making money, caring much less about what soccer and 2010 mean for our daily struggle. A struggle that involves being able to confront the ingrained idea that black South Africans and Africans in general are imposters who must be tolerated and taught “the way.”
 
Nothing, not even the irritation of coming from having to share space or buses with tourists after your Mavis duties are up is beyond the reach of logic of money and profits. So the very thing that oppresses us in general also organises further oppressions within the black community carried out by other black people.
 
So we are not innocent by standers, we are agents of white supremacy by failing to fight it at all levels. We understand white supremacy to be at the very foundation of the world capitalist system yet we will open our homes for profit, wear the leopard skins for the benefit of colonialists who love to see us perform our native rituals, and serve our pap to the tourists at high prices.
 
We will blast our vuvuzelas, blowing hard as if our lives revolve around it because it does. We will be the BEE types then lead to large black masses who have been hanging on to this dream of it belonging and jumping to the capitalists and therefore anti-black practices. This is a wonder because even the BEE types bayanya in true rainbow nation style.
 
But even the peanuts we will earn from exploiting the so-called benefits of 2010 will not in any way change our situation — a situation that is needed for white capitalist interests to thrive. Evidence, from Latin American countries that have hosted world cups and other such mega-events, shows that in general these spectacles do not help the conditions of the poor. They are not useful measures to bring about the development that we have been lied to about because they tend to be anti-poor.
 
Does accepting that soccer robs us both mentally and materially mean that to succeed is to fail? If to be black is to bring your body, voice and labour to the soccer field for a minority to hold control over resources, ideas, and culture right down to how you spend your free time? If to be a soccer fan is to put a stamp on a society that organizes itself around the daily exploitation of a black majority while watching the FIFA types moving on with the circus show, bags bulging with cash?
 
Then it is time we re-imagined soccer and our future engagements with the sport. Because it seems that nothing is as common in South Africa as the repacking and the reselling of practices that are against the black and the poor. South Africa will still face its fundamental challenges that no amount of soccer tactics will have helped.
 
This 2010 will remain in memory as an extremely fancy dress parade that we were allowed to perform in with a vuvuzela as our soundtrack.
 
The end goal is to oppress us, and our so-called black government has come to the parade with blacks as a commodity. They are passing the test. We are helping them help us. This blatant truth is our public secret. It is these shared open secrets that uphold the social and political bodies that benefit from the silences about black life.
 
We fall silent, feed on denial and turn a blind eye to the repulsive state of affairs. To succeed in being soccerised is to sell out.
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