Hosting Nations Cup would help soften 'arrogant SA' image
The Times Editorial: How different the 1996 Nations Cup was from next year's tournament. Back then we were overjoyed to get Africa's soccer spectacle, now no one seems to want it. At least, not the country's major metropolises. Cape Town is hedging, Durban is not on the radar and even Joburg, the centre of our economy and our football, is having its doubts.
Until yesterday, only Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth and Rustenburg had committed to hosting matches in the 2013 Nations Cup, which came our way by default through the civil war in Libya, the original hosts. Perhaps attitudes will change now that the government has given the event its backing, but why the reluctance from cities this time around?
First there is the cost. The price tag of R22-million for the right to host some of the matches is a bit rich for the blood of some municipalities at this time of economic restraint.
Also, Mvuso Mbebe's cynical remarks about some places not being interested because it is an African event should be dismissed with contempt. The 2013 organising committee's CEO is obviously out of touch with reality.
Far more sensible was Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula's observation that municipalities had set their budgets long before the hosting price tag was put out there, and that they did not have R20-million to R30-million just lying around as spare cash.
A second problem is that the Nations Cup is hard to sell. Bafana Bafana will probably attract good crowds (but even that is not yet certain) and cities are afraid of being awarded matches that could be of little interest to local fans.
The SA Football Association and the Confederation of African Football will, with some justification, plead poverty. This brings the government firmly back into the picture.
Funding a Nations Cup is so much better an investment than some kissathon youth festival, and it would do wonders for South Africa's image on a continent that perceives us as aloof from the rest of Africa.