No more vuvuzelas for the African's last black hope after the Black Stars had a glorious chance to be the first African team to reach a World Cup semi-final, and with most of the world watching on television(except for DPR Korea where Dear Leader was speaking). Asamoah Gyan's missed penalty after Luis Suarez's punched Dominic Adaya's near certain winner off the line and then the shoot-out.
What a hearbreaking ending and dramatic penalty-kick decider for The Celeste of Uruguay who seemed doomed when a penalty kick was awarded right at the end of extra-time. Anguish turned to hope, and then to joy when it was all over. Brazil are out and the ORANJE army who walk to the stadiums can walk again to their well deserved semi-final. Maybe the best team never to win the World Cup will finally prevail??
'ARTICLES OF THE FAILED' was a sign that I saw at a fan shop at Munich's Hauptbahnhof (main station) after the first round was over four years ago. I knew exactly what it meant, all the 16 losers jerseys, hats, wigs, pennants, and more were on sale for 50% off. Well, here the street sellers are having a torrid time getting rid of their goods, and Edgars and the other department stores have huge amounts of Bafana Bafana, Brazil, England, France, Italy, Nigeria, USA and other very expensive jerseys with the official stamp of approval unsold. DPR Korea had a $1.4 million contract with an Italian company Legae for their uniforms, with no possibility of buyers back home. I didn't see any replicas or souvenirs of the Hermit Nation sold here.
MATCH Hospitality dumped 400,000 bed nights back to the owners in Cape Town ALONE less than two months prior to kick-off and demanded that their high prices be maintained. I told you earlier that here in Pretoria the University had 4,000 bed nights when I arrived and found myself the only guest there in an unheated dorm room with bathrooms down the corridor and a 500 meter walk to breakfast. MATCH had promised to sell them all, had actually sold 27 total room nights and handed them all back.
In Nelspruit the FanFest was closed early and stall holders had their rents returned when few fans showed up an the out of town venue. A local company had purchased 70 brand new buses to take us from Pretoria to Polokwane, Nelspruit, Rustenburg and Bloemfontein,directly to the stadiums, but only got the contract 2 weeks before kick-off, with little or no marketing campaign and bankruptcy is awaiting.
As for ticketing and hospitality, we have seen huge swaths of empty seats that nobody could afford in this economic climate, and I estimate that 200,000 foreign visitors failed to show when they found out about high air fares, hotels, rent car , flights and worries about petty crime. We have had World Cup night courts issue fines to lots of local and a few foreign bad guys. The first day in the nations's capital in BROAD DAYLIGHT.
1.00pm I was robbed on the street. I had been to the Pretoria Tourist Office in Church Square-where I was the only visitor. Walking back to my hotel towards City Hall a guy started talking then grabbed my belt. I got rid of him and walked a way when a passer bye asked me if I had dropped a ZAR cash card from Thomas Cook. The thief had put his hand in my pocket, taken maybe 80 sterling and dropped the card and ran. LUCKY ME that the stranger noticed or I would have been sunk.
At my hotel 4 police officers were having Rose's excellent value lunch for R25. I told them that the suspect was black and between 25-45 !!! England's purpose built training hotel is now a white elephant. Who will stay there again? Some players had valuables stolen by the staff. FIFA's office in the six star hotel in Sandton City was robbed, and so were a number of journalists rooms elsewhere.Even the home of South Africa's deputy police chief was ransacked in Pretoria while he was away in Cape Town.
Meanwhile a 37 year old Englishwoman and 38 year old American were arrested with hundreds of hospitality tickets found in their Sandton hotel roomon Saturday that they shouldn't have. MARCUS EVANS HOSPITALITY, who they work for, claim to be the world's biggest such company. However, they only have the right to sell hotels and meals, NOT FIFA tickets. Marcus Evans owns Ipswich Town F.C. and is rarely seen.