Fly the flag of respect
SOUTH Africa went football mad this weekend with fans of all colours and nationali- ties gathering in their thousands at stadiums, fanparks, bars and friends’ homes to get the World Cup 2010 tournament off to a brilliant, and earpiercing start.
From Polokwane to Worcester, people were overflowing with the and our streets have been a sea of green and gold and abuzz with the constant din of vuvuzelas. The groundswell of patriotism in our country has been astonishing, with South Africans from all walks of life getting behind our national team Bafana Bafana.
This is admirable. However we would do well to remember that our many visitors from the other countries participating in the tournament have similar feelings of loyalty to their national teams and countries.
We should all respect their right to this, and we must ensure that these visitors feel welcome to ex- press their affiliations and display their national colours with the same pride displayed by South African football fans.
While there exists a friendly (and sometimes not- so-friendly) rivalry among South Africans who support opposing teams, they will always put aside their differences and unite in their support of the nation- al sides, as we have seen in recent days and weeks.
South African fans would do well to remember, and be aware, that patriotism does not translate into national chauvinism. The many flags of differ- ent nations that are fluttering in bars, malls and walkways are reminders that this tournament is, by definition, an international event.
South Africans are often inclined to be rather parochial. But the visitors who are in our city and our country to support their sides should not be subjected to anything but the kindest, gentlest re- minder of rivalries, and should always be treated as we would any other guests, at any other event, and at any other time of the year.
We hope one of the spinoffs of this great tournament will be that more South Africans learn to identify beyond our borders with our continent and indeed the wider world.