I find ambivalence a difficult construct to accept in myself. The idea of feeling almost equally strongly on opposing ends of the scale about an issue is a bit distressing. And still, ambivalence does not quite describe what I feel about the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
To drill down even a tad further, what I feel about the World Cup cannot be adequately expressed as a mixture of feelings towards the event – there are so many aspects of this massive event about which I feel mixed emotions.
Whew! It’s tough to have an overwhelmingly positive or negative opinion of the event. So let me try tell you what I feel and why.
I am proud that the FIFA World Cup is in my country. Truly, I am. I want the world to have a good time while they are here. I want the rest of the world to want to be here. I want them to see that SA is not simply a version of Australia, the UK and the US, nor is it simply another African state that has managed to avoid an overt civil war.
I like that my city, Johannesburg, is festively adorned with flags on street lights, cars and the high walls enclosing houses in traditionally-non-SA-soccer-supporting suburbs.
I enjoy the fact that both locals and ex-pats/people with foreign ancestry are showing support for their teams by putting socks showing their country’s flag on their cars’ side mirrors, while still displaying an SA flag attached to their windows.
I enjoy wearing my yellow soccer-supporter t-shirts (one given to me by the lovely Golden Beagle and another by my mother), and blowing my red vuvuzela.
And yet I look at myself in my yellow t-shirt, and I think I am a fraud. Because I don’t like soccer. I find soccer boring and, really, I could live the rest of my life quite happily never watching another match. I’ve never been to a live football match; I’ve never cared where Bafana Bafana wins or loses, and I’ve never been all that partial to a blaring vuvuzela – in fact, one of the enormous reasons I wouldn’t pay to attend a match is because of the fear of being surround by dozens of thousands of these horns (let alone 50 000-old fellow spectators).
I feel like a fraud because I didn’t care one way or another when the announcement was made a few years ago that my country would host this tournament.
I am uncertain of the long-term benefit of hosting this tournament vs the cost of organising it. Then again, the infrastructure (transport et al) that is now a reality and that would most definitely not have been conceived of and implemented by now were it not for this tournament, will surely only be positive for SA’s economic growth. And, as a prominent local talking head stated the other day, all the funds allocated to making this tournament a reality would probably not have been invested in the desperately needy areas such as education, health and housing anyway. Christ.
I loathe my country a lot of the time. I despise its crime and many of its ruling politicians (and some opposition ones, too, at that) and that I am still afraid of imagining a future here. It galls me that we will act like a united lot for a month and then go back to killing and hurting one another, when the world stops watching.
And yet, I love the silliness. I love that my colleague wore a hat to work today with fluffy soccer balls stuck on it. I love the advertising campaigns, the wit and the music (apart from Waka Waka, which is such a disappointment I can barely speak about it).
The fact that the local TV news does not lead with corruption, murder, rape and poverty allows me to draw breath that I didn’t know I was missing.
I do feel it… all of it, to a greater or lesser extent.
It is here.