And so the first week of the World Cup has successfully been negotiated. Last week we were elated when the opening went off without hitch and Bafana Bafana held on for a gutsy draw.
This week, the national team’s fortunes went the other way and the team faces an uphill battle to qualify for the second round. If they do, as the entire nation wills them on, it will be an unprecedent-
But the greatest issue for the rest of the soccer world is the vuvuzela. This is not just an incredible turnaround, it is also an amazing achievement.
Many fans – and their political and sporting leaders – were at first dubious of our ability to host this four-week spectacle and whether we could guarantee their safety.
Now, their greatest concerns are rather more trivial – notably whether the vuvuzela distracts teams and damages fans’ hearing. For those who never made the trip, but are watching from back home, the biggest issue is how to drown out the drone.
Likewise a comic opera that has been playing out on the sideline – of a beer company’s attempt to subvert Fifa’s strict marketing rules – has made world headlines.
In truth, the top-notch preparations for the World Cup have almost resulted in a pleasant anticlimax. The policing and prosecution of offenders has become so streamlined it has reached levels of effi- ciency which offer a glimmer of hope for an improved justice system come July 12.
On this front we need to bear in mind that while
justice delayed is justice denied, expedited justice, too, has inherent dangers.
We are all innocent until proven guilty. We are also all entitled to a fair defence.
A week into the World Cup we are now looking forward to Football Tuesday, at least for next week. None of us should be fair-weather fans; we should support our team through thick and thin.
More than that, though, we’ve got the incredible, once-in-a-lifetime privilege of hosting the World Cup in our backyard.
It’s not Football Friday, it’s football heaven, all the way to Sunday July 11.