World Cup Fever

On Friday night I was lucky enough (thanks to my brother) to attend the France vs Uruguay World Cup match at the new Cape Town stadium. What a beautiful stadium it is too. The vuvuzelas were LOUD and quite annoying but the atmosphere was good and it was an amazing experience.

Unfortunately there were no goals in the match but I saw enough of Diego Forlan (the main Uruguayan striker) to fear for South Africa’s chances on Weds night. And the French were classy as always and very assured on the ball. Bafana Bafana will have to play out of their skins I fear to progress to the next round.

People were dressed in their national shirts and flags and my brother had a miner’s helmet cut out into football-fan-like shapes. It was a bit like being at a rock concert without the music. In place of the music we had the angry buzzing of a swarm of vuvuzelas but were armed with earplugs and so our hearing probably survived unscathed. Journalists have been having fun with South Africa’s latest cultural weapon, one wag changing the slogan of the national broadcaster from “Feel it! It’s here” to “Hear it! It’s deafening.” I see the Dutch also have their own version called the “HoorNichtsMeer“. As someone who is easily startled by loud noises, I find the vuvuzela a bit of a trial but it also adds to the general sense of excitement surrounding these games.

The French fan in the middle to the left here came prepared with industry-strength ear protection and he also added a blue beret and a straggly beard. His compatriot two seats down has a blue, white and red Mohawk. I had to smile at the couple dressed in the Irish flag who came to register their disapproval at France’s progress to the finals based on Thierry Henry’s outrageous double hand-ball.

It’s hard to believe that this will all be over in just under four weeks. I hope for the Socceroos’ sake that the rest of their World Cup is better than last night’s game. Germany were scarily efficient in disposing of them 4-0. Spain are still the favourites to win it but you can’t rule out Brazil. Should be interesting to see how it develops.

On the book front I’ve been reading Philip Pullman and, well, Philip Pullman. I loved Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife but will have to wait a while to get hold of the third in the series, The Amber Spyglass. I’ll think of something profound to say about those two while I enjoy the rest of the soccer.

For now though, it’s great to be a South African and to forget about our national problems for a while. On July 12th we’ll start to worry about corruption and crime and poor service-delivery. For now, it’s about uniting behind the boys in Yellow. If only they can score another goal like Siphiwe Tshabala’s cracker on Friday.

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7 Responses to World Cup Fever

  1. sandy says:

    Having no idea what a vuvuzela was, I looked it up. Wiki says “The sound level of the instrument has been measured at 131 dB(A) at the opening of the horn and at 113 dB(A) two metres in front of the opening, both dangerously high levels for unprotected ears.” So no wonder you mentioned it. Not only could it damage your hearing, but also drown out anything the announcers might have to say.

  2. I can’t say that it’s ever moved me before, but my older d is dragging me into the world of world cup soccer!

  3. adevotedreader says:

    The world cup is on is it Pete? I’m pretending not to have noticed after our drubbing on Monday!

    Glad to hear you are enjoying it though.

  4. litlove says:

    I just felt so sorry for the poor English goalie who fumbled the ball. We all make mistakes, but most of us prefer not to have several million people watching. And someone was telling me they’ve changed the balls that they’re playing with? To something more high-tech? Wouldn’t that be a nightmare for all concerned?

    p.s. Just looking at those photos gives me crowd claustrophobia….but glad you had a great time.

  5. natalian says:

    Went to the Germany vs Australia game on Sunday – armed with ear plugs – and I enjoyed every moment! The atmosphere was amazing!

  6. doctordi says:

    I should direct LL to Australia’s performance, which I heard was a crushing 4-nil loss…

    That crowd really is something else, but thanks for the eyewitness shots, Pete, they’re my first WC images!! It’s exciting you got to attend a game – I hope SA does well – with that much support, you’d have to think they’ll be giving it their best shot.

  7. Pete says:

    Sandy – Yes the cheap plastic horns are annoying and possibly deafening. I really don’t see how they became so popular but I suppose they add a certain flavour.

    Lilian – Glad to hear your d is getting into the soccer. I wonder which team she chooses to support since Canada don’t play.

    Sarah – I’m sure the Socceroos will bounce back. Although of course the African supporters are hoping that Ghana makes it through with Germany. But I’m rooting for the Aussies as well as Ghana.

    Litlove – I know. Poor Robert Green. He goes from being almost unknown outside his country to being the guy who fumbled the ball. Apparently the new balls are fine though so he can’t blame that. Oh, and I did experience a bit of claustrophobia. Especially when the drunk guy in front of me turned round to blow his vuvzela in my direction!

    Natalian – Yes that was the best match so far. And the Durban stadium looked fantastic. Of course you were supporting Germany. Hope you enjoy the rest of the Cup.

    DoctorDi – It’s amazing what the World Cup has done for national unity here. I know it’s probably only temporary but it’s great to enjoy it while it lasts. As for the Socceroos, I don’t think there’s any shame in going down 4-0 to Germany. Will be interested to see how they bounce back.

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