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South Africa: The myths and realities of the FIFA soccer World Cup

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

June 15, 2010 -- Offering an unapologetic public critique of the FIFA Soccer World Cup at the height of the collective frenzy of positive expectation, feel-good nationalism and general public excitement that now exists in our country is a risky thing to do. But it is a risk that needs to be taken precisely because, no matter what the context, myths always need to be separated from realities. In the case of the "greatest show on Earth", leaving aside the very real beauty and enjoyment of the game of soccer, the myth-making has created a situation akin to inhaling tik -– a short-lived high/euphoria that obscures all reality, followed by a rapid, depressing "come down" back to that reality.

World Cup in South Africa: Six red cards for FIFA


Democracy Now! June 11, 2010 -- Raj Patel on how South Africa has cracked down on the poor and the shack dwellers’ movement ahead of the World Cup. Read the full transcript HERE.

[See also ``2010 World Cup: Africa's turn or turning on Africa? A political economy of FIFA's African adventure''.]

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 11, 2010 -- The soccer World Cup began this weekend here in South Africa, with the home team playing a 1-1 draw with Mexico before 95,000 fans at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium.
Regardless of whether South Africa’s Bafana Bafana (our boys), ranked #90 in the world, can survive its next matches against France and Uruguay to advance a round, we know this society is already a big loser. The reason: egregious mistakes made by national and municipal governments, apparently under the thumb of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

A barrage of flag-waving, vuvuzela-blowing hypernationalist publicity cannot drown out at least six critiques of the World Cup:

1) dubious priorities and overspending;

2) FIFA super profits and political corruption;

3) heightened foreign debt and imports amidst generalised economic hardships;

2010 World Cup: Africa's turn or turning on Africa? A political economy of FIFA's African adventure


PowerPoint slideshow by Patrick Bond.

[See also South Africa: Will the World Cup party be worth the hangover? by Patrick Bond.]

By Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed

[This article first appeared at Soccer & Society, volume 11, issue 1 & 2, January 2010.]

South Africa: Will the World Cup party be worth the hangover?

Construction workers protest outside the new Soccer City Stadium near Soweto.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

May 15, 2010 -- On June 11, South Africans start joling [jol -- to have fun, to party] like no time since liberation in April 1994, and of course it is a huge honour for our young democracy to host the most important sporting spectacle short of the Olympics. All the ordinary people who have worked so hard in preparation deserve gratitude and support, especially the construction workers, cleaners, municipal staff, health-care givers and volunteers who will not receive due recognition.

Vancouver Winter Olympics: A festival of corporate greed

Graphic from No2010.com.

By Roger Annis

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada -- Socialist Voice -- On February 12, 2010, the corporate sporting behemoth known as the 21st Winter Olympic Games will open to great fanfare here. In a time of economic hardship and government cuts to social programs across Canada, huge sums of public money have been spent to stage this uber spectacle.

Billions of dollars have been spent constructing venues, a new convention centre and airport terminal; widening and paving untold kilometres of roads and highways; building a hugely expensive rapid transit line connecting the city’s airport to its downtown; and erecting new hotels to serve the influx of corporate sponsors and spectators.

The hotel, travel, restaurant and real estate industries hope to make a killing off the influx of out-of-town spectators and partygoers. Construction companies have already earned hundreds of millions of dollars during the years of preparation furiously pouring concrete and asphalt. The official line says there will also be lots of long-term tourism dollars to be made, though this has not happened in other host cities.

2010: Welcome to the upside-down world of South Africa

By Dale T. McKinley

January 11, 2010 -- SACIS -- Even if the meanings we give to measurements of time are most often overblown, there is something about the mark of a new decade. In the case of South Africa, 1990 marked the beginning of the end of the apartheid system, ushering in a period pregnant with new hopes, possibilities and dreams. When 2000 rolled around it heralded not only a once in a lifetime turn of a century but carried with it the delayed weight of the majority expectation of an age of progress and plenty. So what are our "inheritances" as we begin the new decade? Where do things stand? What is the mark of 2010?

Troubadour politics: How Dennis Brutus maintained ‘stubborn hope’

By Patrick Bond

I will be the world’s troubadour
if not my country’s
Knight-erranting
jousting up and down
with justice for my theme
weapons as I find them
and a world-wide scatter of foes

Being what I am
a compound of speech and thoughts and song
and girded by indignation
and accoutred with some undeniable scars
surely I may be
this cavalier?

-- Dennis Brutus, 1978  

January 1, 2010 -- World-renowned political organiser and one of Africa’s most celebrated poets, Dennis Vincent Brutus, died early on December 26 in Cape Town, in his sleep, aged 85. Poetry and Protest: A Dennis Brutus Reader is the title of the autobiographical sketches and verse published in 2006 by Haymarket Books of Chicago and the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press. What links these aspects of your life, I once asked the itinerant Dennis Brutus, and he replied, “The role of the troubadour.”

Travelling from court to court during the Middle Ages, the troubadour was southern Europe’s sage, a wit whose satirical songs offered some of the most creative expressions of love for life and people.

Hamba kahle Comrade Dennis Brutus (1924-2009)

 

There will come a time
There will come a time we believe
When the shape of the planet
and the divisions of the land
Will be less important;
We will be caught in a glow of friendship
a red star of hope
will illuminate our lives
A star of hope
A star of joy
A star of freedom

-- Dennis Brutus, Caracas, October 18, 2008

By Patrick Bond

December 26, 2009 -- World-renowned political organiser and one of Africa’s most celebrated poets, Dennis Vincent Brutus, died early on December 26, 2009, in Cape Town, in his sleep, aged 85.

Even in his last days, Brutus was fully engaged, advocating social protest against those responsible for climate change, and promoting reparations to black South Africans from corporations that benefited from apartheid. He was a leading plaintiff in the Alien Tort Claims Act case against major firms that is now making progress in the US court system.

The persecution of Caster Semenya -- sport and intersex people's rights

Caster Semenya.

By Farida Iqbal

September 20, 2009 -- Eighteen-year-old South African track athlete Caster Semenya has done nothing wrong. Yet she has been accused of deceiving the world about her sex. There is nothing wrong with Semenya’s body. Yet her body has been paraded in front of the world by the mass media as if she were a sideshow freak.

Semenya is a talented athlete. Yet her career is at stake.

Semenya won the 800 metres in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships on August 19. She was accused by the international media of having won the race due to her unfair disadvantage of “really” being a man.

Semenya, like many other female athletes, has been subjected to sexist judgement of what a female body is supposed to look like.

Semenya is an intersex woman. But intersex women are not the only women who have been subjected to such scrutiny. The accusation of looking “too masculine” has always been used to degrade female athletes, including tennis great Martina Navratilova. For years the media focused on her highly developed biceps.

Semenya was subjected to invasive “gender tests” (actually testing biological sex, not gender). The test results were leaked to the international mass media. Australia’s Daily Telegraph was the first to run the story, revealing Semenya has internal testes and no womb. This may or may not be true.

Code violation, apartheid state

By Ibrahim Abraham

February 17, 2009 -- When one thinks of the Palestinian struggle, the topic of tennis doesn't readily come to mind. The only connection I can think of is Bjorn Borg attracting the violent ire of Baader-Meinhof (or was it the Japanese Red Army?) when he dressed up in an Israeli army uniform back in the 1970s. However, the liberal decentists are up in arms over the UAE's denial of a visa to an Israeli tennis player. "The United Arab Emirates' decision to refuse a visa to the Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer demands a strong response from the international sporting community" wrote Richard Williams in the British Guardian.

And you know what? He's right; it does demand a strong response. Israel must be banned from all international sporting competitions until it complies with international law and withdraws every soldier and settler from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Shebaa Farms, and ends the blockade of the Gaza Strip, or, it abandons its apartheid policies and becomes a democratic state granting equal rights to all regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Spain: Anti-apartheid protesters disrupt Israeli basketball team's game

Barcelona, February 5, 2009 -- Protesters opposed to Israel's apartheid policies and its atrocities in Gaza chanted slogans and waved Palestinian flags during a basketball match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Barcelona on Thursday, February 5, 2009. Despite tight police security, protesters managed to disrupt the game by running onto the court before being dragged away by aggressive cops and security guards. Tel Aviv was thrashed 85-65 by Barcelona.

Boicot del partit de bàsquet Barça -- Maccabi de Tel Aviv. Palau Blaugrana. 5 de febrer de 2009. Boicot a Israel. Solidaritat amb Palestina!!

Capitalism and sport: Sports for a few

Sachin Tendulkar (pictured) and other stars learnt their cricket in the compounds of their buildings or in lanes and alleys. But even these spaces are now beyond the reach of the common people.

By Vidyadhar Date

The competitive frenzy for winning in sports has been fuelled by aggressive marketing. Together they ensure that while a minority is trained with superlative sports facilities, the majority is deprived of even basic amenities to play and breathe fresh air. In India, market forces have pampered cricket while harming all other games in the process.

India won just three medals at the recent Beijing Olympics, though it did better than in the past. This is seen as a breakthrough by our ruling class,  which now wants the nation to gear up for further success at the London Olympics in 2012.

‘Transformation’ from above: the upside-down state of the `beautiful game' in South Africa

Bafana Bafana (and Kaizer Chiefs) supporter

By Dr Dale T. McKinley

For the better part of the past century, the most popular sport in South Africa (both in relation to public entertainment and active participation) has been soccer. From its initial introduction into South Africa as a sport played almost solely by the propertied (white) gentry, soccer quickly became, by the turn of the twentieth century, the sport of choice amongst the non-white population and white lower classes.

The dissidents' guide to the Olympics: `War minus the shooting'

As the world corporate media goes Olympics mad, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has assembled a range of alternative viewpoints on what the modern Olympic Games really represent. While -- when it suits their interests -- establishment media commentators and capitalist governments loudly proclaim that ``sport and politics don't mix'', it soon becomes apparent that the Olympics spectacle is drenched in politics and the promotion of the worst aspects of dog-eat-dog capitalism. But sometimes it is also a site of struggle, as this selection of articles, drawn from the Links and Green Left Weekly archives, as well as other progressive sources, reveals.

Olympics 1968: Black Power Salute

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games the enduring image was Tommie Smith and John Carlos, African-American athletes, raising their gloved clenched fists in support of the Black Power movement during the ``Star Spangled Banner''. They were subsequently banned from the games for life. Black Power Salute looks at what inspired them to make their protest, and what happened to them after the Games. Featuring Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Bob Beamon and Delroy Lindo. Click HERE for parts 2-6.

Also read about Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who gained third place, who supported Smith's and Carlos' protest. Norman is the subject of a new documentary, Salute, which can be previewed here.

Part 1

 

A people's history of sports -- Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin presents a terrific and humourous talk on ``The People's History of Sports'', providing insights and little-known history about sports in the United States. He spoke at the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2008 conference in Chicago on June 21, 2008.

Zirin is a radical sports editor, writer and columnist for Nation.com, and a columnist for SportsIllustrated.com, the Progressive and other media. He is author of What's My Name Fool?, The Muhammad Ali Handbook and Welcome to the Terrordome. His columns and articles can be found at http://www.edgeofsports.com.

Howard Zinn said of Zirin, ``It is so refreshing to have a sports writer who writes with such verve and intelligence, who also has a social conscience,and who refuses to keep those parts of his life separate." He is author of the forthcoming A People's History of Sports in the US.

Nike: How cool is exploitation?

Nike: how `cool' is exploitation?

Graphic

By Norm Dixon

August 28, 1996

Image is a vital to the success of the giant international sports footwear and apparel corporation Nike. Endorsements by sports superstars like basketballer Michael Jordan, soccer maestro Eric Cantona and sprinting ace Cathy Freeman -- to name just a very few -- have made the company's "Swoosh" logo synonymous with "cool" for millions of young people worldwide. That image would be badly tarnished if it became widely known that the Nike empire is built on cheap Third World labour (including child labour), denial of trade union rights and collaboration with repressive regimes, most notably the Suharto regime in Indonesia.

Nike Australia's public relations spokesperson, Megan Ryan, was coy about how much the company spends on marketing and sponsorship when Green Left Weekly spoke to her recently.

Tibet and the `Olympic tradition'

Below are two articles discussing the protests against the Olympic torch relay by supporters of Tibet's right to national self-determination. The first appeared in Green Left Weekly. The second is by Pierre Rousset, a member of the French Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) and editor of the Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF) website. It was translated for Links -- International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- by Katie Cherrington.

***

Pro-Tibet protests grow — why Tibet deserves justice

By Tony Iltis

April 19, 2008 -- Australian Capital Territory (ACT) police have been given enhanced stop-and-search powers for dealing with protests planned for the Canberra leg of the global Olympic torch relay on April 24. This comes as protests by the Tibetan diaspora and their supporters have turned the torch’s world tour into a public relations disaster for the Beijing Olympics.

Continued below photos ...

*** Stop press, April 24 ***

Cricket, excess and market mania

By Srinivasan Ramani

The Indian Premier League is seen as a bonanza for cricket viewers, players and corporate owners, but hidden behind the glitz is the fact that it represents a distorted form of commodity and consumer excess. The Indian Premier League (IPL), a corporate-driven tournament featuring a set of city teams playing Twenty20 cricket, has made news with a multimillion dollar player auction. Players from various cricket-playing nations were ``bought'' and ``sold'' through bids made by the corporate-owned teams (the franchisees).

Cricket in India has become the only sport that has captured widespread mass and media attention. The popularity of the sport has increased in leaps and bounds, and the way the sport has been managed and administered has reflected the dominant mode of economic transactions in the country.

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