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Enraged Eyes Turn From Soccer to Eskom June 13, 2010

Posted by Afflatus in Energy, Sports and Entertainment.
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The biggest fans missed the biggest moment and it’s an absolute tragedy! 15 minutes into the second half of the opening match between South Africa and Mexico, the big screen T.V. in Orlando, Soweto went black and never turned back on. The 3,000 fans who had gathered to watch a defining moment in their country’s history (as big as their first democratic elections according to many) were justifiably upset. According to the local paper, The Times, the fans stuck around and then left hugely disappointed. I, for one, would have been livid! In fact I am angry right now. This is a disgrace and it never should have happened.

I was pretty  mad when I learned I would be in an airplane flying from Mozambique to Johannesburg during this same opening match. Thankfully, the flight was moved 3 hours earlier so I was able to watch to the game in the Johannesburg airport. To understand the tragedy of the Soweto blackout, the atmosphere in South Africa surrounding that first game must be witnessed firsthand. People were dancing and singing in ecstasy when South Africa scored the first goal of the cup. Seemingly everyone in the Joburg airport was showing South African colors. If it wasn’t a jersey or face paint, they had a Vuvuzela, the deafening horns blown at football (soccer) matches throughout this country. The sheer joy, which so many people felt during that game, and especially during Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal, is what those watching (or attempting to watch) in Soweto missed.

As a football (soccer) fan, I would have been devastated if I had missed even one minute of my country’s game; missing the last 35 would outrage me! In South Africa, blacks form the main support base of Bafana Bafana, the country’s football (soccer) team, while whites generally prefer rugby. However, as an Afrikaner told me last night, “right now soccer is everyone’s favorite sport.” This Cup can (and should) be a unifying force for this historically divided country. From what I’ve witnessed, the Cup seems to already be having that unifying effect, a very inspirational observation. Hopefully it will have that same effect in Brazil in 4 years.

But the Cup can only be unifying if everyone is watching. Tickets to the games are generally too expensive for blacks living in Soweto, a township outside Johannesburg. Unable to attend the games in person, watching on T.V. is their only option. Eskom, the publicly-owned electricity provider in South Africa, must make sure that this option remains available.

Eskom has failed its people. Its spokesperson has apologized profusely, and said that this will never happen again. But this guarantee is meaningless – all they are promising is to do their job properly, something they should have done in the first place. What truly will never happen again is the moment. And the moment is gone. It has been missed by 3,000 Sowetans. And this is the utter tragedy.

Racism in Football May 19, 2009

Posted by masterj27 in Sports and Entertainment.
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Thought I would follow up on the first post I wrote. Here’s an excerpt from a football news blog I read everyday:

Sol Campbell was today once more vindicated in court, after a man and a 14-year-old boy were found guilty in Portsmouth today of shouting “shocking and disgusting” chants at the 34-year-old former England international, when Tottenham Hotspur travelled to Fratton Park last year.

The pair will be sentenced at a later time, after the first ever case of ‘indecent chanting’ brought by the Crown Prosecution Service reached its conclusion. The boy, who was 13 at the time of the offence, and his co-accused Ian Trow, 42, were convicted on the basis of CCTV evidence, though their defence lawyer claimed, according to BBC News, “They passionately and whole-heartedly believed their behaviour and language

didn’t overstep the mark of what is acceptable behaviour and language at a football match.”

The footage showed fans chanting, amongst other things,”Sol, Sol, wherever you may be, Not long now until lunacy, We won’t give a f*** if you are hanging from a tree, You are a Judas c*** with HIV”, “Campbell you are a c***”,  “Sol’s a wanker” and “come on gay boy, that’s my gay boy”.

Campbell himself issued a court statement which read, “I felt absolutely disgusted at this and I didn’t react because of my profile and I feared I might make the situation worse and cause problems.”

There’s not much left, but if you want to read the rest of the article click here.

Five Amazing Soccer Free Kicks April 17, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in Sports and Entertainment.
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My First Post April 12, 2009

Posted by masterj27 in Sports and Entertainment, World Affairs.
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So a lot of you have recently been encouraging me to post on this blog. Unfortunately, unlike many of the people who post here, I’m not too into politics and don’t really pay attention to what Harry Reid thinks about the recent stimulus bill. Obviously these things are important to society, and I wouldn’t venture to say I don’t dabble in some of these topics, but for my first post I wanted to write about something that I’m very passionate about and something that I think you will find interesting. Most of you can guess that I’m going to write about football (soccer), but I’m going to delve into something that many of you may not know about.

Football is an international sport. The World Cup is one of the most widely viewed events on the planet, and it brings together an enormous amount of people from cultures all over the world. Sadly, even in the spirit of friendly competition, the footballing world has been plagued by a very serious and barbaric epidemic: racism. Many of us would probably think that racism means white people negatively discriminating against African-Americans, but on the world stage this is not the case. Players, referees, and even fans are negatively discriminated against not only because of the color of their skin, but also their nationality and religion. A major problem with this issue is that the guilty parties are everywhere: the fans are guilty, the referees are guilty, the administrations are guilty, and the players themselves are guilty, just to name a few. To give you an idea, here are some examples of what has been going on (from Wikipedia):

Germany – Leipzig’s Nigerian midfielder Adebowale Ogungbure was spat at and called ‘nigger’ and ‘ape’ by opposition fans, who later aimed monkey noises at him. In retaliation he placed two fingers above his mouth and saluted at the crowd – an obvious reference to Adolf Hitler. Ogungbure was arrested by German police, as it is illegal to make Nazi gestures for political or abusive purposes, but criminal proceedings were dropped 24 hours later.

Lithuania – On March 24, 2007, in a match between France and Lithuania, a racist banner was unfurled by Lithuanian supporters. Directed against France’s black players, it represented a map of Africa, painted with the French flag colors (blue, white and red), with a slogan of “Welcome to Europe”. (See Pic)

Netherlands – Ajax fans have the tradition of using Jewish and Israeli symbols to express their allegiance. Regularly, the supporters wave large Star of David flags and scream Joden! Joden! (“Jews! Jews!”) to fire up their team. Die-hard Ajax supporters call themselves “F-Siders” or “Joden” – Dutch for “Jews” – a nickname that reflects the team’s and Amsterdam’s Jewish roots. However, opposing supporters are known to use anti-Semitic remarks to express their antipathy towards Ajax. This is expressed in slogans such as Hamas, hamas, joden aan het gas (Hamas, Hamas, Jews into the gas) or producing hissing sounds that imitate the flow of gas.

Spain – During a training session in 2004, a Spanish TV crew filmed Spanish national team head coach Luis Aragonés trying to motivate José Antonio Reyes by making offensive and racist references to Reyes’ then teammate at Arsenal, Thierry Henry. The phrase used was “Demuestra que eres mejor que ese negro de mierda”, translated as “Show that you’re better than that black shit”.

England – On 21 April 2004, Ron Atkinson resigned from ITV after he was caught making a racist remark live on air about the black Chelsea F.C. player Marcel Desailly: believing the microphone to be switched off, he said, “…he [Desailly] is what is known in some schools as a fucking lazy thick nigger“.