I’ve been celebrating, commiserating at times and watching the football games with the rest of the world as the World Cup 2010 wagon rolls ever so slowly towards the finish line. What a trip we’ve had along the way! Madiba was there when the announcement was made on the 15th May 2004 and we all rejoiced. Africa celebrated then and we continue to celebrate now even when the doubters made alternative plans for us. Africa is the future or didn’t they get the memo!? The games commenced on the 11th June 2010 after a wonderfully presented opening ceremony. Madiba himself wasn’t at the ceremony and we totally understood why. My thoughts and prayers went out to his family that day (still do). The ‘smaller nations’ stood up and caused some major upsets – Spain lost to Switzerland, Cameroon lost to Japan and subsequently headed home earlier than planned. Who could forget the North Korean striker overcome by emotion whilst singing the nation anthem? He just cried and let it all out for all to see. We watched the games by any means necessary. Some on the other side of the globe stayed up late or woke up early depending on their locations. I, thanks to Steve Jobs and my iPhone discovered a website that actually allows me to watch me ‘Live TV’ whilst in the comfort of my open plan office – I just neglected to disclose this important bit to my boss and didn’t bother explaining why I had that ‘focused look’ every afternoon since the 11th June this year. Of course celebrating any goals by running around the office in that typical Drogba hand glider style was strictly forbidden!
I was however saddened by events that have since inspired this scribe. Putting my emotions aside for a moment, but Ireland didn’t make it to WC2010 and I STILL have a problem with that – and I’m even not Irish!! In the end, Frank Lampard’s goal in the game against Germany was in fact not a goal and how could we forget our beloved Ghana? The Black Stars lost a game they should have won in the second half of extra time after a Suarez’s handball. To say I was gutted is an understatement. I was so gutted like you wouldn’t believe! I still haven’t watched a full match since then; call it sulking if you will – I don’t care. Like I said I’ve put my emotions aside to write this. It’s not my fault that I’m in love with Mama Africa like this,cliche but She completes me. I am yet to become a father but if I was a father say to my ‘imagery daughter’ Gugulethu (I absolutely love that name); how would I respond if she asked me why some cheaters do in fact prosper? How would I teach her the difference between right and wrong and to remind her to pursue the right path irrespective of the final outcome? I was raised by parents who taught my sister and I that ‘cheaters never prospered’ and yet we all witnessed events in this world cup that defied that same teaching. When did it become morally acceptable to handle the ball only to score the winning goal and gain immediate qualification to the world cup hey France? I ask you now – When? I recall hearing murmurs of journalists who claimed that FIFA secretly wanted France to qualify as this was financially more beneficial to their cause. Wow! Since when did this matter? Oh wait, perhaps it always did – naïve of me I suppose. And as for Ghana, and as I stated earlier on, let’s put emotions aside for a moment, but when did it become acceptable for an opposing team member to blatantly handle the ball therefore stopping a goal-bound ball? I ask you again – When?
The question of goal-line technology has been discussed at great lengths prior and in fact during this world cup and yet FIFA continues to resist calls to change the rules. Even in rugby, there is a rule which states that:
‘if the referee believes that a try has been prevented by the defending team’s misconduct, he may award the attacking team a penalty try. In rugby union, the standard applied by the referee is that a try “probably” would have been scored’.
Most will concur with me when I said this, that Ghana bound goal should have been awarded on the spot instead of a penalty. The match would have ended with a Ghana 2:1 victory but instead this week some of you watched Holland versus Uruguay in the first semi-final of this world cup. What a travesty it would have been had Uruguay actually made it to the final of the World Cup 2010! I don’t like to generalise usually but most of Africa must have sighed with relief after the final whistle on Tuesday night. The ‘cheating’ Uruguayan players are going home (after their last game with Germany tonight)! At that point last Friday, I turned to Twitter to gauge the mood and I came across this tweet that epitomised my own emotions: –
I guess the only thing Uruguay need to worry about now is whether to chose Chicken or Beef, Aisle or Window .
This is the measure of the shared sentiments of one African lady I follow on Twitter, who also watched that Uruguay versus Ghana game most of us did last Friday.
I will eventually calm down – this I know. I speak for most when I say that irrespective of the result last Friday I am and continue to be a proud African World Cup supporter. Proud of what Ghana and indeed the other African teams managed to achieve. Ghana was welcomed home as if they actually won the cup. In the bigger scheme of things, it’s moments like this that will overshadow everything else – African unity was there for ALL to see! The Black Stars scored USD15 million for that achievement and I hope they reinvest the funds in the next breed of Black Stars that will compete in 2014. We will be there to support them then as we did last Friday.
God bless Africa!