In Today’s Predictable Headlines: World Cup in Doubt

I went to bed listening to the BBC World Service. After years covering wars in Africa, there are still some stories that are so shocking they make it difficult to sleep. This was one of them:

Players in Togo’s national football team have told of their shock when gunmen fired on their bus as they drove to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. Manchester City player Emmanuel Adebayor described it as “one of the worst things I’ve ever been through in my life”. He said the bus was targeted just 5km (3 miles) across the border and the shooting lasted for half an hour. He described how players and other team members were trapped in the bus.

And as I lay in bed listening to preview packages (made days earlier) about how Angolans desperately hoped the championships would mark the end of a miserable time, I thought about how excited the entire continent was for this year’s World Cup in South Africa. How long would it be, I wondered, before idiots started casting doubt on whether the World Cup could go ahead? Not long, as it turned out.

This from Fox’s “football expert”…

Hill says while the frenzied nature of football in Africa would make the World Cup a wonderful experience for fans, it could also be its downfall.

And this from The Daily Mirror

Bad for the Nations Cup and a disaster for the forthcoming first-ever World Cup in Africa. The machine-gun attack on the Togo players may have taken place in northern Angola last night but the shots would have been heard around the world. Never mind the fact that Greatest Show on Earth will be taking place in a different country. Never mind the fact that South Africa have already proven that they can host most sporting tournaments.

Never mind the fact that Africa is a continent, let’s assume that this tragedy is proof that all its different peoples share the same maniacal bloodlust and are only ever a dozen machetes away from launching a mass murder, is what the next paragraph might have been.

South Africa has its security concerns, there’s no doubt. Rebel groups is not one of them. Nor pirates, famine or elephants marauding through stadiums. The attack on the Togo team bus is an horrific tragedy. But let’s get a grip.


4 thoughts on “In Today’s Predictable Headlines: World Cup in Doubt

  1. Another lazy case of joining the dots in Africa from far away when it doesn’t make sense to join them. As Ryszard Kapuściński – a man who knew Angola very well, incidentally – put it in Shadow of the Sun:

    “Only with the greatest simplification, for the sake of convenience, can we say “Africa”. In reality, except as a geographical appellation, Africa does not exist.”

    Still, it’s been happening before; some nonsensical fear-mongering the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/jul/07/louise-taylor-south-africa-2010-world-cup

    They should ask some of the English cricket barmy army who are currently having a great time in South Africa.

    I think the main concern of football fans ahead of the World Cup – and the key to their judgement of its success – is the performance of their team, and not problems affecting other parts of an enormously diverse continent.

  2. It’s an easy headline, but an old rebellion in Cabinda has little to do with South Africa and its First World roads, security and planning. Pretty much the only thing that all the nations of Africa have in common is a love of football.

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