Posted: 11/29/2013


       What do you notice on the pitch when you watch a match live or on television, compared with rugby, cricket, American football, basketball, baseball and other minor pastimes?

       NOTHING !! or very little in fact, apart from the pitch markings. No on-field advertising or on the goal posts, and in European and World Cup matches shirt advertising is very restricted. Contrast that with these other pastimes. If you go to Scandinavia you will see the players and the officials plastered from head to toe with advertising, as if they were grand prix racing drivers or boy scouts, but not the pitch.

      This is one area that FIFA has fought to keep uncluttered and a good thing too. Well, they got one thing right anyway!.

      Tragedy at Estadio Corinthians in Sao Paulo where the opening ceremony and opening match is due to kick-off next June. Two dead and more injured. Just the latest indictment of not having a proper bid system and accountability for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  Four years later in Russia they have three 'pods' of cities, none in the vasteness of Siberia, so that travel time will be cut down for teams and fans.

      FIFA only 'demanded' a minimum of 8 stadiums in Brazil, but the government chose 12 for political reasons in a country the size of a continent with limited air capacity, no long distance rail services and journeys of up to three days by luxury buses which are plentiful.  Cuiaba, Manaus, Brazilia only have minor football clubs in the lower leagues, which attract crowds in the hundreds. The first named claims that there will be insufficient hotel rooms for fans who want to stay overnight.

     What happens afterward to these white elephants?  South Africa 2010 didn't quite have the same distance problems. An overnight trip on a comfortable lean-back armchair seat on a double decker bus from Johannesburg to Cape Town was less than 12 hours. Cape Town Green Point stadium is underused nowadays, with the rugby stadium much preferred for the occasional big match, and a few smaller venues for the Premier Soccer League( PSL) and First Division matches which attract small crowds.

     I looked at the attendances of a couple of days ago. Only ONE attracted more than 1,000 spectators. However, I was pleased and suprised with the advances made during my 4 visits to South Africa from 1994 to 2010.

     As I have stated before. I would be happy to see the World Cup with 32 teams restricted to England, France, Germany where long distance train travel and connecting metro systems can shift thousands of fans at a time. Also where stadiums and infrastructure are in place and cheap discount airlines rule the air space. Also USA once every 12 years maybe, with efficient and affordable air fares and hotels, but ONLY if group matches were restricted to one 'pod' of nearby cities unlike in 1994.

     Also, to prevent wealthy oil rich emirates from 'buying' a world cup place, do not allow host countries a free pass unless thay are in the top 32 in the FIFA calculations.