Thursday, June 17, 2010

South African blues

South African blues.
Is this the most inconvenient World Cup for fans in recent memory? Without a doubt. After a week of travelling to games here in South Africa I would go as far as saying you are better off staying at home and watching on a big screen.

I feel like most of my time here has been spent in traffic crawling to and from games with tens of thousands of others who are afraid to use the skeletal public transport options or in the case of Rustenburg, have no choice but to hire a car.

Parking is a confusing toss-up between park and rides far away which can demand tickets without any being obviously on sale, or on-street hawkers ushering you to their 'secure' spot where they promise to watch your car for a fee. The gritty neighbourhood around Ellis Park in Johannesburg for instance is one you would not want to walk around alone, and is buzzing with unofficial car-parkers who try to direct you off the road and give you no confidence.

Having followed signs for a park and ride there we were stuck in traffic on a tight commercial street without a white face in sight, which made us feel so uncomfortable we did a u-turn and found a verge instead. The arrangements for Soccer City in Joburg, capacity 90,000, entail a huge trek or a marathon wait for shuttle buses for those arriving by car.

There just is not an underground or adequate train network here like there has been at the previous three World Cups, and add to that inadequate highway space e.g. one lane in and out of Rustenburg and voila - a transport nightmare.

Add to all that the deafening din of vuvuzelas, blasting out at all hours of the night and day from the lips of moronic arriviste fans, not by locals, plus the vast fluctuations of weather - burning sun by day and almost zero by night, and it really is a challenging experience to be here.

So enjoy the World Cup chez toi, and spare a thought for those of us who shelled out to brave the real thing.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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