Monday, June 21, 2010

African Countries Losing On 'Home Soil' During World Cup South Africa 2010

Zakumi the Leopard, the official mascot for th...
Zakumi the Leopard, the official mascot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is a lot of pressure on African teams this year to do well in the World Cup since its on African soil for the first time. Some commentators have noted that since its on 'home soil', the African teams should have an advantage. One thing to note is how all African teams, regardless of nationality, seem to be playing on 'home soil'. Let us not forget that Africa is not one homogeneous country, and whilst South Africa proudly is hailing an African flag for all of Africa, it is also representing South Africa as a nation and brand.

This idea that Africa is one homogeneous country is pervasive and can be seen in the assumption that African teams have an advantage because they are all playing on 'home' ground. When the World Cup was in Germany, were African teams proclaiming that somehow France or Italy had a 'home advantage' because they are playing on 'home' soil in Germany? A French citizen would think one was absurd for making that inference. As mentioned in an earlier post, in terms of the weather alone, South Africa's weather is closer to that of the European teams in terms of the winter weather the teams are currently playing in. Additionally, one can argue that FIFA rulings specifically banned the joint hosting of World Cup Tournaments after Japan and South Korea jointly hosted the games in Asia a few years ago so this is not a jointly hosted event.

There are other factors that makes that claim loaded with the pervasive imagery of Africa being one country, but ask any Ghanaian, Cameroonian, Algerian or Zimbabwean that has experiences xenophobia from South Africans in the last few months, and they will tell you that the World Cup is not in Ghana, or Cameroon, Algeria, or Zimbabwe - its in South Africa and they too, will need to hop on a plane or get a visa to go there.

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