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Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 17:06 UK

World Cup watch

By Piers Edwards
BBC Fast Track's man in Johannesburg

Kaizer Chiefs fans
The behavious of some Kaizer Chiefs fans has given the 2010 World Cup organisers cause for concern

"I'm not feeling it."

This is a problematic statement for South Africa because it was uttered by the chairman of the World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) with regards to next year's tournament.

"People are saying this World Cup is a defining moment in the history of this country and what is disappointing me is that I'm not feeling this World Cup," Irvin Khoza told a startled conference earlier this week.

Monday's conference in Johannesburg was organised by a host of parties responsible for marketing South Africa ahead of the World Cup.

Having borne the brunt of many criticisms himself, Khoza had no qualms in addressing the crux of his concerns.

Everybody knows that the 2010 World Cup presents a unique and historic opportunity for South Africa

Irvin Khoza

"As we gather here, I don't see any branding in the room," the 61-year-old said of the naked walls around him.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this World Cup is the real thing. Even the banners you use must be larger than life, and on every street, on every corner, you must feel that something is happening in this country.

"We must feel that the show is in town but I'm not feeling it."

Like Fifa before him, Khoza is concerned by the lack of World Cup marketing adorning South Africa's streets and buildings.

What Khoza really wants is for local businesses to up their game and compliment the activities of the LOC in promoting the World Cup.

It was a rallying call which evoked memories of a concerned Fifa president Sepp Blatter telling South African workers to swing their pickaxes and shovels into action in 2006.

With a budget of just under two million dollars to market the World Cup within South Africa, the LOC itself is keeping its powder dry until after the draw on 4 December.

Irvin Khoza
Khoza wants local businesses to step up as well

"We hope that the private sector is going to pick up its marketing now," says Derek Carstens, the LOC's Chief Marketing Officer.

"But I have no doubt that after the World Cup draw, it's going to snowball," he added.

Meanwhile, South Africa's tourism board has launched the 'diski' - a dance comprising a series of choreographed football moves which it hopes will generate excitement, both at home and abroad, through a series of TV advertisements.

Elsewhere, a prominent hotel chain is planning to introduce 'Football Fridays', a twist on Dress-Down Fridays whereby employees turn up to work in their favourite football jerseys.

"Everybody knows that the 2010 World Cup presents a unique and historic opportunity for South Africa," says Khoza.

Unfortunately for the 2010 hosts, research shows that the largely-positive media coverage generated by the Confederations Cup was undone the following month by nationwide strikes, which received greater international exposure.

In fact, not a lot has gone right for South African football since the Confederations Cup final.

It damages the image of our League as well as our reputation as hosts of the 2010 Fifa World Cup

Kjetil Siem, CEO of the PSL

That very night, squad member Bryce Moon knocked down a pedestrian, who later died of her injuries, after he drove home from a party celebrating Bafana Bafana's success.

Nonetheless, he was still called up for last week's 3-1 home defeat by Serbia, which reignited fears over the hosts' World Cup fortunes.

Officials felt there was nothing wrong with selecting Moon, but that may change after the defender was charged with culpable homicide on Friday.

Last week, another motoring accident also claimed the life of Jan Sillo, 32, a regular defender for AmaZulu in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

These tragedies were followed by incidents at a local game on Saturday which only denigrated the World Cup hosts' football before the world.

When Kaizer Chiefs played Ajax Cape Town in a cup game, the tie had to be temporarily abandoned late on after Chiefs fans threw bottles and chairs in frustration at several refereeing decisions.

"What happened could prove disastrous for the whole South African soccer family," said Kjetil Siem, CEO of the PSL.

"It damages the image of our League as well as our reputation as hosts of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

"With the focus of the international football community on us, we can ill-afford to show the world such disgusting behaviour."

Yet arguably the most shaming moment actually came when the referee blew for half-time early.

Not by a few seconds or so, but by a mind-boggling seven minutes - a grotesque error which was swiftly rectified but which was hugely embarrassing nonetheless.

It was against this backdrop that Khoza made his rallying call, making it clear that South Africa still has plenty to address as the continent's first World Cup approaches.



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see also
Free tickets for SA World Cup
15 Aug 09 |  African
Is South Africa ready for 2010?
11 Jun 09 |  Football
First new 2010 stadium opened
07 Jun 09 |  African
'Stampedes not an issue' for 2010
30 Mar 09 |  African
2010 World Cup's transport legacy
23 Nov 08 |  African
South Africa's 2010 Cup challenge
07 Jul 06 |  Africa
World Cup to kick off SA economy
27 Nov 07 |  Business


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