FIFA is gaining quite a reputation for taking dreadful decisions. Some of them, like the recent Chelsea transfer ban, leave us indignant, furious and pulling our hair out; while others, like the choice of venue for the Euro 2008, leave us somewhat amused and scratching our heads. I remember being quite confused as to why Switzerland and Austria were chosen to jointly host the Euro 2008. I feel that big football event must take place in a country with footballing prowess and was relieved when South Africa won the bid to host the 2010 World Cup. The event starts in June and as many as 500,000 foreign tourists are expected to land in South Africa for the mouth-watering football fiesta. Another thing super about having the World Cup in South Africa is the great weather (I remember it being unpleasantly cold in Switzerland) and well, the South Africans really know how to party. My bags packed themselves when South Africa was chosen. I have heard its beautiful, modern and fun. Another thing that makes this world cup a little more special is that it has been the dream of the great Nelson Mandela, a huge football fan of the game to bring the World Cup to his country and it’s the first time that the African continent is hosting the event.
According to Mandela, “When you have an important international game being played in a country, you spread the message that South Africa is part of the global world.”
So imagine my horror when I read that South African traditional leaders plan to perform ritual animal slaughters to bless the stadium for the 2010 World Cup tournament.
Zolani Mkiva, chairman of the Makhonya Royal Trust, a group responsible for co-ordinating cultural activities said, that the tournament, the first to be held in Africa, needed to be blessed in true “African style”. “We must have a cultural ceremony of some sort, where we are going to slaughter a beast (cow),” said Mkiva. “We sacrifice the cow for this great achievement and we call on our ancestors to bless, to grace, to ensure that all goes well. It’s all about calling for the divinity to prevail for a fantastic atmosphere.”
There is nothing remotely global about that. I think Nelson Mandela was talking about a certain Zolani Mkiva and people like him when he said, “South Africa is now part of the global world, but not everyone in South Africa is aware of this.” I know it is close to Halloween but Mr. Mkiva surely we don’t need it to get this ugly. Switzerland and Austria as football tournament hosts suddenly don’t sound so strange! I truly hope to watch the World Cup like God intended it, with the cows.