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Dont Write Cape Town Off Yet 02/05/03
Reader Gareth Mann, responding to SAsoccer365 columnist Alan Tyers' article regarding the chaos at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night, says that while some valid points are raised, South Africa's chances of hosting an incident-free World Cup shouldn't be written off just yet.

I read Alan Tyers article about the match between Bafana Bafana and Jamaica with a great deal of interest.

Many of the points he raised are (unfortunately) extremely relevant. However, I don't think that he's justified in writing off the South African World Cup bid on the basis of this one incident.

Firstly, I should point out that international football is a rarity in Cape Town. Since South Africa re-emerged onto the international scene in 1991, only two games (both friendlies) have been played in Cape Town.

One was on Wednesday night. The other, as I recall, was against Saudi Arabia and was played at Newlands rugby stadium. So local experience of hosting internationals is limited.

While there is a lot of interest in football in Cape Town, most people are ambivalent about the local teams.

If you ask any Cape Town football fan which club he supports, chances are that it'll be either Manchester United or Liverpool. The local teams are lucky if they get a couple of hundred people at their games.

It's quite possible that Wednesday night was the first occasion that Athlone Stadium has ever had a capacity crowd. Although the inefficiencies in managing entry to the ground, etc. are clearly inexcusable, this does suggest why staff were seemingly unprepared for the amount of people who showed up.

As a Cape Town resident, I'm proud of the fact that there was such a good attendance to watch a SA team (missing many of their high-profile players) play against a team of unknowns like Jamaica.

Yes, local soccer management is in a shambles. Yes, the local league seems to be run with the exclusive interests of the big Johannesburg-based clubs at heart. But there is still hope.

It is likely that any World Cup games played in Cape Town would be played at the much larger Newlands rugby stadium, which holds about 50 000, and where security and organisational arrangements are much better.

Hosting the World Cup would force South African football authorities to raise their game, and this would hopefully result in a more orderly and better supported local league.

South Africa managed to overcome decades of hatred and oppression in a peaceful manner which many other countries have tried (and failed) to emulate.

It is foolish to suggest that the hosting of a sporting event, even one as large as the World Cup, is beyond this countrys capabilities.

Yours sincerely

Gareth Mann


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