Friday, July 2, 2010

Football withdrawal symptoms

The two barren, football-free days are finally over. Wimbledon has been a poor substitute, especially as I just cannot get excited about Andy Murray and his ultimately doomed attempt to be the first British male champion since Fred Perry in neolithic times. Fortunately, I had to pick my cousin up from the airport to begin a week crammed full of the beautiful game (although there have been times this tournament when 'beautiful' has been stretched to the limit - NZ v Paraguay anyone?).

The Norweigan Bjorn Heidenstrom cycled and hitchhiked from Oslo to Johannesburg and collecting football shirts from various clubs along the way. These have been made into a giant shirt, which is currently on display in Randburg, Johannesburg. The shirts range from the big global brands such as Manchester United and Chelsea to smaller provincial clubs in the Spanish lower leagues (and Coventry City!).

Try and find a wardrobe big enough for this...

In between cruising the roads of Johannesburg and taking photos of the football stadiums in the city, we stopped for a couple of beers in Soweto in the afternoon winter sun. Across the road, a stall sold football scarves, hats and flags. The waning support for Bafana was evident as the Bafana scarves were cheaper than the Ghana ones. Ghana has become Africa's football darling. This morning, my local pub was flying the Ghanaian flag in a show of African solidarity. This area was also witness to some of the xenophobic violence unleashed on African immigrants that hit Johannesburg a couple of years ago but now they're supporting the foreigners. One minute they're different, the next they're "one of us". 

Displaying a Ghana flag doesn't necessarily mean that attitudes towards African immigrants are going to change

If Ghana beat Uruguay tonight, there'll be a lot of sore heads tomorrow! Which, incidentally, is where I'm off to now, via the pub to watch the Brazil v Netherlands game.

 Football designs on the Soweto cooling towers

Yet for all the fun and laughter of the the World Cup, just remember that not all is rosy in South Africa...

The World Cup is unlikely to have touched the inhabitants of these homes...

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