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2010 FIFA World Cup A re-imagined identity for South Africa?

Table of contents:


1. The once fragmented nation, apartheid and inequality

2. International media coverage prior to the world cup

3. The legacy & Banal nationalism

4. Positives and negatives of FIFA world cup






Word count= 4,253 (Not including references). Project written by Rhys Martin [10145224]

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The most prestigious of all sporting events worldwide, the FIFA world cup, entered the South African border in 2010 after they had become triumphant in the bidding process in Zurich back in 2004. Immediately it became apparent that the hosting of this mega-event wasnt solely centred on the football aspect moreover it meant so much more for the South African nation as well as the whole of Africa. This mega event was utilised as part of an ongoing project that focused on nation-building and many academic scholars and ordinary citizens cited the event as a catalyst and platform for bringing the whole of South Africa together regardless of race, colour or class. It was widely regarded as a utopian vision; however the staging of the event did not pass freely without its critics as well as the pessimism that existed within media representations that existed both locally and internationally.

This essay will seek to explore, from a broader perspective, whether South Africa was able to use this sporting event as a motivating force in instilling a re-imagined identity not only for themselves but from the perspective of the rest of the world. The project will be wellgrounded with a cornerstone of extensive research and the contributions of many well-known authors. Furthermore it seeks to explore some of the following unanswered questions:

1. How has South Africas history influenced a new imagined identity through sport, in particular the hosting of the FIFA world cup in 2010. 2. What impact did the world cup have on the host country- both positive and negative? 3. What role did local and international media play in either glorifying or nullifying South Africas re-imagined identity? 4. Post World cup era. The way forward- how long will the legacy be prolonged?

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Chapter 1: The once fragmented nation, Apartheid and inequality

In order to completely comprehend why the hosting of the 2010 FIFA world cup was so vital for the nation of South Africa it is mandatory to explore, albeit briefly, the troubled past of South Africa and how that was exposed to the world. White supremacy, segregation and apartheid all contributed to the downfall of South Africa and as these were so deeply entrenched in the nation it is impossible to disregard or even attempt to bury the past in a bid to move on with any degree of ease. These problems burdened the nation and carried so much weight they soon encroached into the sporting context and consequently brought about the demise, albeit temporarily, of South Africa and its isolation from the rest of the world. Apartheid, [Happened] in twentieth-century South Africa, [and was] the official policy of separating the races within their society legally and socially (Student resources, 2012). Essentially, the black race was oppressed whilst the white race enjoyed contentment. Therefore, the nation was divided and strict measures were enforced to ensure that there was a separate development in different sporting codes; in particular football teams. Whilst other independent world football associations began to form under the umbrella body of FIFA; from the mid 1900s South Africa became increasingly distanced and somewhat alien as it ended up very much on the outskirts of world football (Merwe, 2010). It came as no surprise that due to the divisions in South African society at the time of apartheid; South Africa had four separate dissimilar football entities. These included the Football Association of South Africa (FASA), The South African Soccer Association (SASA), The South African Soccer Federation (SASF) and the South African National Football Association, (SANFA) (Introduction to the South African football association, n.d.). As racial conflict and division became increasingly entrenched FIFA acted in accordance with their anti-discrimination policies and Rules and subsequently inflicted a lengthy ban on South

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Africas participation in subsequent tournaments post 1956. This seemed logical and entirely consistent with the ethics and values of FIFA given that FIFA stands for unity, within the football world and...[FIFA] use football to promote solidarity, regardless of gender, ethnic background, faith or culture (Mission & Statuses, n.d.). Ever since the end of apartheid, South Africa and its subsequent opinionated leaders have attempted to seek out a new national identity, otherwise known as a re-imagined community, a term coined by Benedict Anderson. According to Farquharson and Marjoribanks, (2003) after exploring Andersons concept of imagined communities they specify that, nationbuilding is not necessarily a benign or unifying process involving all members of society, but may well be the result of the imposition of coercive power and of exclusion by political or economic elites. This is what was essentially happening in the apartheid era of South Africa whereby the National party cast its ideals over an imagined community of white supremacy at the exclusion of blacks. What we are now witnessing in todays contemporary society are carefully framed and formulated nation-myths such as the rainbow nation and the melting pot that are being used to construct a new and reformed identity. These new myths have been fused into the context of sport and sport has been used by the South African citizens as a vehicle to achieve a new acclaimed status on the world stage. The significance of sport to any developing country cannot be underestimated. Sport builds bridges between people. Sport is a means to foster tolerance, respect and peace, and to facilitate communication...between people (United Nations office for sport development and peace). It is this tolerance, cultural tolerance that South Africa has transitioned into in the last seventeen or so years; being able to recognize and accept the differences between their citizens and to live as a civilized humanity has been one of their fundamental goals. The rainbow nation myth, with its biblical undertone, has been utilized as a symbolic tool since the turn of apartheid and it promotes the unison of colours, (black and white) and the

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integration of different ethnicities. This can be contrasted to the assimilation of the melting pot proposed by Stratton and Ang (1994) in which they elucidate the point that equal opportunity and social justice should be granted to all members of society providing that they work towards a common ideal of multiculturalism (ORegan, 1994). Indeed, when these myths are taken into the sporting context, what we have is both a powerful and potent concoction that South Africa as a whole can reap the benefits from. In addition, when reputable leaders such as Nelson Mandela are proclaiming these myths in speeches it seems as though a seamless positive spirit will be instilled within the citizen mass of South Africa. However, come the end of the day are these just myths that are acting as a figment of the imagination of the people? Do they still exist only as a utopian desire rather than a stringent reality? South Africa however does seem committed to continuing the pursuit of this dream into the future. For example, they have hosted the 1995 Rugby world cup, 1996 African nations cup (football), 2003 cricket world cup, 2007 world twenty20 cricket championships and most recently the 2010 FIFA world cup (Morgan, n.d). The ongoing hosting of major international sporting events, where the worlds eyes are upon the South African nation, is testament to the thought process of the leaders of South Africa in strengthening their national identity as well as influencing and swaying perceptions from a worldwide audience.

Chapter 2: Media coverage prior to the world cup

Regardless of where the FIFA world cup took place, the event has always and will always attract enormous interest and coverage from the media. However, in the case of the 2010 world cup in South Africa there existed a heightened interest from the media as it was the first time in history that an African country had hosted this most prestigious event. Given that

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South Africa had already successfully hosted large scale events before; namely the Rugby world cup in 1995 and the Cricket world cup in 2003, it was interesting that afro-pessimism still managed to move stealthily into discussions surrounding the hosting of this particular international event. British media representation: Print For South Africa to live up to a new imagined identity it would need to prevail over any pessimistic views that circulated throughout the media, especially the international media. Unfortunately, yet somewhat expectantly, The FIFA world cup in South Africa has been at the receiving end of hostile publicity from the Western media (Mshale, 2010). So much so that South Africa was positioned as the other and international perceptions focused on theydom up against wedom. The British media perceptions of South Africa hosting the world cup in 2010 were downbeat as they seemed to have been so immersed into the countrys troubled past that there was no other real avenues considered for a different outlook. (Hammet, 2010). During the build up to the world cup, the British media cast a vigilant eye on the daily occurrences in South Africa and anything that presented them with an opportunity to expose the other in a somewhat vilifying way...they would latch onto it almost instantaneously. For example, some of the headlines that ran in popular British newspapers at the time aimed at stimulating and promoting thoughts relating specifically to fear, crime or security ...., On sale: Body armour with team colours of your choice for world cup 2010 in South Africa, England fans too scared to travel and England fans could be caught up in a machete race war at the World cup... were some headline grabs (Hammet, 2010, p.69). The way in which the British media acted can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Firstly, the attitudes exhibited by the media were extremely bias and that contributed to the heightened

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nationalistic sentiment presented. As nationalism was protected and strengthened whilst adversely reporting on another foreign country, this ensured that power was held in reserve (Hammet, 2010). Secondly, this was the first significant time that the world cup had moved away from traditional power bases of Europe and South America and therefore the British may have been somewhat fearful of a change in hands (Merwe, 2010). Transnational media broadcasts coverage : CNN, BBC, and Aljazeera. Another traditional media outlet, (television) was extensively used throughout the period of the FIFA world cup and it is clear that the reporting on South Africa as the host country differed between three recognized transnational media broadcasters. BBC world news coverage prior to the world cup was deeply rooted in the racial divisions still prevalent in parts of South Africa. This was over-emphasised through communicating on the binary opposites of citizens in the country, particularly between colour associations and ties. Samples of BBC news reporting showed, Black politicians on the one hand, and white businessmen on the other, the white farmer and his black workers, as well as pictures of crowds with black African football fans and a group of white people who commemorate victims of black violence (Hoppe, 2011, p. 35). Bear in mind, these representations are being exposed to an international audience and they only seem to add to the heightened fears of scepticism and alienation. The power of media was on show. Conversely CNN international, who are also a Western transnational broadcaster, had more of a positive focus leading up to the world cup. CNN payed particular attention to Nelson Mandelas involvement in breathing life back into his home country as well as momentarily reliving past sporting events such as the Rugby world cup that held some of the same nationalistic desires that the FIFA world cup did. However, much of this positive focus was

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overshadowed when the report concluded by posing the question whether this world cup would change South Africa markedly or do no justice at all. (Hoppe, 2011). Interestingly, the only non-western based broadcaster station, (Aljazeera) was the only station out of the three to bring football into the focus. This could be related to the fact that Aljazeera Has closer ties, culturally and geographically, to the African continent (Hoppe, 2011, p. 5). In this report there was still scepticism that existed but it was more connected with the expenditure on the stadiums and whether the investment is cost-effective to the wider community especially the poor. Most strikingly, compared with the other two broadcasters Aljazeera passes by the chance to shed any light on racial issues which has been customary in other reports from the media (Hoppe, 2011). Observably, it became clear that Western media representations prior to the FIFA world cup have been rather critical of South Africa as a host nation so much so that any optimistic views presented were overlooked. This can only serve to thwart South Africas imagined identity.

Chapter 3: The promise Legacy of the South African world cup

In Bogdanovs theses he refers to the work of E. J. Hobsbawns (1990) book on Nations and Nationalism since 1780 and the following exert strongly identifies how sport is used as a vehicle to achieve and convey national identity:
What has made sport so uniquely effective a medium for inculcating national feelings, at all events for males, is the ease with which even the least political or public individuals can identify with the nation as symbolized by young persons excelling at what particular every man wants, or at one time in his life has wanted , to be good at. The imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people. The Individual, the one who only cheers, becomes a symbol of his nation himself.

(Hosbawn, cited in Bogdanov, 2011, p. 20)

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Essentially, Hobsbawn is communicating that sport is very much a unifying factor in the way in which individuals are working together as a collective group rather than being individualistic and therefore possessing different attitudes and/or beliefs. The imagined community, or in the context of this project the re-imagined identity, is based on the notion of all South Africans working towards the common goal regardless of race, ethnicity or class. In this sense, sport can do what politicians cant seem to do and that is to come to a unified consensus that is neither confused nor misinterpreted. This is fundamentally what the world cup in South Africa was seen to be; however to live up to providing that legacy required the unrelenting and unwavering support of those residing in the home country. Legacy as defined by Preuss (cited in Bob & Swart, 2010, p. 78), ...Is all planned and unplanned, positive and negative, tangible and intangible structures created for and by a sport event that remain longer than the event itself. In the context of the South African FIFA world cup event this would include legacy aspects of strengthening the countrys image, arts and culture, education, infrastructure and the move towards alleviation of poverty (The 2010 fifa world cup legacy, n.d.). The most important thing in fulfilling the legacy was to have the citizens of South Africa follow and support the framework and they certainly achieved this through banal nationalism, a term coined by Michael Billig back in 1995. Throughout the course of the world cup, South Africans became proud flag bearers by draping the South African flag on numerous cars and buildings, dressed themselves in the national colours, chanted and sung into the night and even created their own symbolic instrument the vuvezela (Ndlovu-Gatsheni, 2011).These acts of banal nationalism brought about a feel good factor for the event itself and amongst many like-minded South Africans. However, one very important question needed to be asked ..... whether or not these acts were short term revelling that with the fullness of time would expose a month of fake nationhood

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building as there was a lingering fear that come the end of the world cup these acts would gradually disappear. This fear was captured by an article in The Times where it read, We mustnt shelve our patriotism along with our flags in a months time (Ndlovu-Gatsheni, 2011, p.280). What seems to be happening at these large-scale international sporting events, particularly in the case of this world cup, is a reminder to the South African people of the post apartheid era and the new way forward. However, I argue that the benefits of these sporting events and the legacy of the world cup appear intermittently rather than on a continuum. As Bilig highlights, crises...infect a sore spot, causing bodily fevers: the symptoms are an inflamed rhetoric and an outbreak of ensigns. But the irruption dies down, the temperature passes, the flags are rolled up, and, then, it is business as usual (Billig, 1995, p. 5). For the most part of the world cup; advocacy groups, interest groups and social movement groups were overlooked and their opinionated views on their state of affairs for their respective states were constrained by the special measures act that was an agreement made with FIFA. It seems logical that this agreement was made given that the government was wholly focused on using the world cup as a strategic marketing tool in their project of nation-building. However, the more the government attempts to quell legitimate public demonstrations that focus on life values such as wage increases, HIV/Aids policy and land redeployment, the more disintegration between nation-states will become visible (Cornelissen, 2012).

Chapter 4: Positives and negatives

After the hosting of the FIFA world cup it is apparent that those with a vested interest in the tournament are still divided in opinion as to the overall benefit of the world cup to the nation of South Africa. It is thus important to consider both the potential positives and negatives that

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have materialized from the world cup and the impact that they have had on the project of nation-building.

Research shows that the successful hosting of the world cup has strengthened and most importantly updated South Africas brand. As the world cup reaches out to a global audience, those who were less familiar with the new South Africa would have had images and perceptions that were deep-rooted from centuries earlier. A post tournament survey conducted by FIFA on international visitors to South Africa showed that, 83 per cent of the international fans questioned expressed an intention to return to the country, while 94 per cent they would happily recommend a visit to South Africa to their friends and family (South
Africas FIFA world cup a success at home and abroad, 2010)..

As a result, South Africa will be able

to reap the benefits for years to come of a continual increase in tourism income, the economy should remain stabilised and their position in an increasingly competitive globalised world will be more forceful. Part of their new imagined community is to be a dominant player in the international market and since they have shown to the world that they are capable of hosting the biggest sporting tournament in the world they have recently been invited by China to join the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China, (BRIC). Although their invitation is not a direct result of their success at hosting the world cup, undoubtable it has had some sort of an impact. The fact that they can now openly liaise with other emerging economies through trade agreements, can only seek to improve their growth potential in the coming years (Richter, 2011). As a result of the FIFA world cup there has been major improvements to infrastructure such as railways, roads and airports. This was a very real and tangible positive, as plans around the hosting of the world cup aimed to control the influx of visitors and to make it more convenient for locals to visit the different stadiums. In order to achieve the planned

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infrastructure investments goals more skilled-workers are required which means more job opportunities are created. With more jobs being created local residents are bringing more money into their family household which will improve their standard of living and wellbeing. This in turn could potentially reduce the unemployment rate in South Africa which just might bridge the gap between the rich and poor both temporarily and in the longer term. Another positive that came from the world cup in South Africa was the way in which a sense of togetherness and unity blanketed over the whole of Africa. For example, South Africans identified with the African continent for the first time as they supported Ghana through to the quarter finals, people talked to each other using the words we and us (Krige, 2010). This is definitely a signal of intent of the way in which South Africa has transformed since apartheid and they have a cemented belief that they can achieve this imagined community which they have so often yearned for. Imagine Australia barracking for New Zealand if they went further in the tournament, or Japan supporting Korea. This would be almost unheard of in the Oceanic/Asian region as the national football teams are seen more in the light of an intense rivalry.

Behind all the sentiment that poured from the decision to award the hosting rights to South Africa and the intrinsic position that the world cup was Gods Gift to the South African people existed pessimism and scepticism from those residing in the nation. As mentioned earlier one of the positives that came from the staging of the world cup was the massive infrastructure investment project that took place. However, at the same time as the investment was being made in urban centres by the government, the poorer and under-developed centres were becoming increasingly disadvantaged (Cronj, Van Wyk &Botha, 2010). What we have here is a striking similarity to the pre-apartheid era, the ANC party, (African National

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congress) should have distributed funds more uniformly to the poorer affected areas or at least used the world cup as an opportunity to strategically empower the poor and working class. If they had created a Public relations campaign around this notion, with an already established global audience at the time, then I believe the critics would have been more believable when espousing the new imagined community. A renewed and alarming concern after the final whistle was blown on the 11th of July 2010 was that of Afrophobia or more broadly put Xenophobia. Both of these terms relate to attacks made on foreigners by native-born South Africans which seem to have as their source deeply rooted in issues such as job scarcity and ownership in the form of land and housing (Cronje et al., 2010). Interestingly, These threats are coming from many different people: neighbours, colleagues, taxi drivers, passersby, but also from the more conservative professions of nurses, social workers and police officers (Institute for security studies, 2010). Obviously the world cup hasnt directly ignited these fears as xenophobia has been active for a lengthy period of time; however given the fact that this event has supposedly done nothing for those living in unfavourable conditions, this can only lead to more violence in the future. The issue stems back to the power of the ruling party and through the words of Frantz Fanton, who was a philosopher in post-colonial studies of his time, he clearly articulates the wrongdoing of the political party. The [ruling] party, instead of welcoming the expression of discontentment, instead of taking for its fundamental purpose the free flow of ideas from the people up to the government, forms a screen, and forbids such ideas (Fanon cited in Cronje et al., 2010, p.307). His foreknowledge of events occurring in todays South Africa is chillingly accurate; if the ANC enables freedom of expression and enacts some sort of democratized structure in which the people of South Africa can be heard then Im almost certain xenophobia attacks would be substantially reduced. Rather than have foreigners acquiring all possessions, if the living standards of the lower-class members in

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society is raised then there would be more contentment amongst everyone without any known disparities other than their country of residence.

Summary and concluding thoughts

Although a generalisation, for any discerning football fan they would have come to a consensus that the 2010 FIFA world cup was a great success; and by so many measures it was. The success of the world cup was even quantified in numbers, as Sepp Blatter, (FIFA president) scored South Africas hosting of the event a 9 out of 10 (9 out of 10 for South African World cup, 2010). After extensive research it has become clear that utilizing the FIFA world cup as a tool in the ongoing project of a new imagined community seemed a commonsense approach, as sport brings individuals together regardless of race, ethnicity or class and this is something that South Africa is striving towards. To proclaim that the world cup has entirely crafted and shaped a new re-imagined identity for the nation of South Africa would be a bold statement. The fundamental challenge going forward, especially from the governments perspective, is whether or not they are able to turn the short-term success of hosting the world cup into sustained success. If they can successfully achieve the hosting and logistics of the biggest sporting event on the planet then one could argue they are well placed to address other worrying issues such as poverty alleviation, salary wages, xenophobia, HIV/AIDS treatment and living standards. Its whether the legacy of the FIFA World Cup 2010 can continue to prolong into the future and whether the imagined community can be envisioned by all those residing in South Africa. One thing remains certain though through all this analysis, you cant judge a book by its cover nor can you judge a country by its stereotypes.

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