2010 FIFA WORLD CUP- reimagined identity?

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  • 7/29/2019 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP- reimagined identity?


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    2010 FIFA World Cup A re-imagined identity for South Africa?

    Table of contents:

    Introduction 2

    1. The once fragmented nation, apartheid and inequality 3

    2. International media coverage prior to the world cup 5

    3. The legacy & Banal nationalism 8

    4. Positives and negatives of FIFA world cup 10

    Conclusion 13

    References 15

    Word count= 4,253 (Not including references).

    Project written by Rhys Martin [10145224]

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    The most prestigious of all sporting events worldwide, the FIFA world cup, entered the South

    African border in 2010 after they had become triumphant in the bidding process in Zurich

    back in 2004. Immediately it became apparent that the hosting of this mega-event wasnt

    solely centred on the football aspect moreover it meant so much more for the South African

    nation as well as the whole of Africa. This mega event was utilised as part of an ongoing

    project that focused on nation-building and many academic scholars and ordinary citizens

    cited the event as a catalyst and platform for bringing the whole of South Africa together

    regardless of race, colour or class. It was widely regarded as a utopian vision; however the

    staging of the event did not pass freely without its critics as well as the pessimism that existed

    within media representations that existed both locally and internationally.

    This essay will seek to explore, from a broader perspective, whether South Africa was able to

    use this sporting event as a motivating force in instilling a re-imagined identity not only for

    themselves but from the perspective of the rest of the world. The project will be well-

    grounded with a cornerstone of extensive research and the contributions of many well-known

    authors. Furthermore it seeks to explore some of the following unanswered questions:

    1. How has South Africas history influenced a new imagined identity through sport, in

    particular the hosting of the FIFA world cup in 2010.

    2. What impact did the world cup have on the host country- both positive and negative?

    3. What role did local and international media play in either glorifying or nullifying

    South Africas re-imagined identity?

    4. Post World cup era. The way forward- how long will the legacy be prolonged?

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    Chapter 1: The once fragmented nation, Apartheid and inequality

    In order to completely comprehend why the hosting of the 2010 FIFA world cup was so vital

    for the nation of South Africa it is mandatory to explore, albeit briefly, the troubled past of

    South Africa and how that was exposed to the world. White supremacy, segregation and

    apartheid all contributed to the downfall of South Africa and as these were so deeply

    entrenched in the nation it is impossible to disregard or even attempt to bury the past in a bid

    to move on with any degree of ease. These problems burdened the nation and carried so much

    weight they soon encroached into the sporting context and consequently brought about the

    demise, albeit temporarily, of South Africa and its isolation from the rest of the world.

    Apartheid, [Happened] in twentieth-century South Africa, [and was] the official policy of

    separating the races within their society legally and socially (Student resources, 2012).

    Essentially, the black race was oppressed whilst the white race enjoyed contentment.

    Therefore, the nation was divided and strict measures were enforced to ensure that there was

    a separate development in different sporting codes; in particular football teams. Whilst other

    independent world football associations began to form under the umbrella body of FIFA;

    from the mid 1900s South Africa became increasingly distanced and somewhat alien as it

    ended up very much on the outskirts of world football (Merwe, 2010).

    It came as no surprise that due to the divisions in South African society at the time of

    apartheid; South Africa had four separate dissimilar football entities. These included the

    Football Association of South Africa (FASA), The South African Soccer Association

    (SASA), The South African Soccer Federation (SASF) and the South African National

    Football Association, (SANFA) (Introduction to the South African football association, n.d.). As racial

    conflict and division became increasingly entrenched FIFA acted in accordance with their

    anti-discrimination policies and Rules and subsequently inflicted a lengthy ban on South

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    Africas participation in subsequent tournaments post 1956. This seemed logical and entirely

    consistent with the ethics and values of FIFA given that FIFA stands for unity, within the

    football world and...[FIFA] use football to promote solidarity, regardless of gender, ethnic

    background, faith or culture (Mission & Statuses, n.d.).

    Ever since the end of apartheid, South Africa and its subsequent opinionated leaders have

    attempted to seek out a new national identity, otherwise known as a re-imagined community,

    a term coined by Benedict Anderson. According to Farquharson and Marjoribanks, (2003)

    after exploring Andersons concept of imagined communities they specify that, nation-

    building is not necessarily a benign or unifying process involving all members of society, but

    may well be the result of the imposition of coercive power and of exclusion by political or

    economic elites. This is what was essentially happening in the apartheid era of South Africa

    whereby the National party cast its ideals over an imagined community of white supremacy at

    the exclusion of blacks. What we are now witnessing in todays contemporary society are

    carefully framed and formulated nation-myths such as the rainbow nation and the melting

    pot that are being used to construct a new and reformed identity.

    These new myths have been fused into the context of sport and sport has been used by the

    South African citizens as a vehicle to achieve a new acclaimed status on the world stage. The

    significance of sport to any developing country cannot be underestimated. Sport builds

    bridges between people. Sport is a means to foster tolerance, respect and peace, and to

    facilitate communication...between people (United Nations office for sport development and

    peace). It is this tolerance, cultural tolerance that South Africa has transitioned into in the

    last seventeen or so years; being able to recognize and accept the differences between their

    citizens and to live as a civilized humanity has been one of their fundamental goals. The

    rainbow nation myth, with its biblical undertone, has been utilized as a symbolic tool since

    the turn of apartheid and it promotes the unison of colours, (black and white) and the

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    integration of different ethnicities. This can be contrasted to the assimilation of the melting

    pot proposed by Stratton and Ang (1994) in which they elucidate the point that equal

    opportunity and social justice should be granted to all members of society providing that they

    work towards a common ideal of multiculturalism (ORegan, 1994).

    Indeed, when these myths are taken into the sporting context, what we have is both a

    powerful and potent concoction that South Africa as a whole can reap the benefits from. In

    addition, when reputable leaders such as Nelson Mandela are proclaiming these myths in

    speeches it seems as though a seamless positive spirit will be instilled within the citizen mass

    of South Africa. However, come the end of the day are these just myths that are acting as a

    figment of the imagination of the people? Do they still exist only as a utopian desire rather

    than a stringent reality?

    South Africa however does seem committed to continuing the pursuit of this dream into the

    future. For example, they have hosted the 1995 Rugby world cup, 1996 African nations cup

    (football), 2003 cricket world cup, 2007 world twenty20 cricket championships and most

    recently the 2010 FIFA world cup (Morgan, n.d). The ongoing hosting of major international

    sporting events, where the worlds eyes are upon the South African nation, is testament to the

    thought process of the leaders of South Africa in strengthening their national identity as well

    as influencing and swaying perceptions from a worldwide audience.

    Chapter 2: Media coverage prior to the world cup

    Regardless of where the FIFA world cup took place, the event has always and will always

    attract enormous interest and coverage from the media. However, in the case of the 2010

    world cup in South Africa there existed a heightened interest from the media as it was the

    first time in history that an African country had hosted this most prestigious event. Given that

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    South Africa had already successfully hosted large scale events before; namely the Rugby

    world cup in 1995 and the Cricket world cup in 2003, it was interesting that afro-pessimism

    still managed to move stealthily into discussions surrounding the hosting of this particular

    international event.

    British media representation: Print

    For South Africa to live up to a new imagined identity it would need to prevail over any

    pessimistic views that circulated throughout the media, especially the international media.

    Unfortunately, yet somewhat expectantly, The FIFA world cup in South Africa has been at

    the receiving end of hostile publicity from the Western media (Mshale, 2010). So much so

    that South Africa was positioned as the other and international perceptions focused on

    theydom up against wedom. The British media perceptions of South Africa hosting the

    world cup in 2010 were downbeat as they seemed to have been so immersed into the

    countrys troubled past that there was no other real avenues considered for a different

    outlook. (Hammet, 2010). During the build up to the world cup, the British media cast a

    vigilant eye on the daily occurrences in South Africa and anything that presented them with

    an opportunity to expose the other in a somewhat vilifying way...they would latch onto it

    almost instantaneously. For example, some of the headlines that ran in popular British

    newspapers at the time aimed at stimulating and promoting thoughts relating specifically to

    fear, crime or security ...., On sale: Body armour with team colours of your choice for world

    cup 2010 in South Africa, England fans too scared to travel and England fans could be

    caught up in a machete race war at the World cup... were some headline grabs (Hammet,

    2010, p.69).

    The way in which the British media acted can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Firstly, the

    attitudes exhibited by the media were extremely bias and that contributed to the heightened

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    nationalistic sentiment presented. As nationalism was protected and strengthened whilst

    adversely reporting on another foreign country, this ensured that power was held in reserve

    (Hammet, 2010). Secondly, this was the first significant time that the world cup had moved

    away from traditional power bases of Europe and South America and therefore the British

    may have been somewhat fearful of a change in hands (Merwe, 2010).

    Transnational media broadcasts coverage: CNN, BBC, and Aljazeera.

    Another traditional media outlet, (television) was extensively used throughout the period of

    the FIFA world cup and it is clear that the reporting on South Africa as the host country

    differed between three recognized transnational media broadcasters.

    BBC world news coverage prior to the world cup was deeply rooted in the racial divisions

    still prevalent in parts of South Africa. This was over-emphasised through communicating on

    the binary oppositesof citizens in the country, particularly between colour associations and

    ties. Samples of BBC news reporting showed, Black politicians on the one hand, and white

    businessmen on the other, the white farmer and his black workers, as well as pictures of

    crowds with black African football fans and a group of white people who commemorate

    victims of black violence (Hoppe, 2011, p. 35). Bear in mind, these representations are

    being exposed to an international audience and they only seem to add to the heightened fears

    of scepticism and alienation. The power of media was on show.

    Conversely CNN international, who are also a Western transnational broadcaster, had more

    of a positive focus leading up to the world cup. CNN payed particular attention to Nelson

    Mandelas involvement in breathing life back into his home country as well as momentarily

    reliving past sporting events such as the Rugby world cup that held some of the same

    nationalistic desires that the FIFA world cup did. However, much of this positive focus was

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    overshadowed when the report concluded by posing the question whether this world cup

    would change South Africa markedly or do no justice at all. (Hoppe, 2011).

    Interestingly, the only non-western based broadcaster station, (Aljazeera) was the only station

    out of the three to bring football into the focus. This could be related to the fact that Aljazeera

    Has closer ties, culturally and geographically, to the African continent (Hoppe, 2011, p. 5).

    In this report there was still scepticism that existed but it was more connected with the

    expenditure on the stadiums and whether the investment is cost-effective to the wider

    community especially the poor. Most strikingly, compared with the other two broadcasters

    Aljazeera passes by the chance to shed any light on racial issues which has been customary in

    other reports from the media (Hoppe, 2011). Observably, it became clear that Western media

    representations prior to the FIFA world cup have been rather critical of South Africa as a host

    nation so much so that any optimistic views presented were overlooked. This can only serve

    to thwart South Africas imagined identity.

    Chapter 3: The promise Legacy of the South African world cup

    In Bogdanovs theses he refers to the work of E. J. Hobsbawns (1990) book on Nations and

    Nationalism since 1780 and the following exert strongly identifies how sport is used as a

    vehicle to achieve and convey national identity:

    What has made sport so uniquely effective a medium for inculcating national feelings, at

    all events for males, is the ease with which even the least political or public individuals

    can identify with the nation as symbolized by young persons excelling at what particular

    every man wants, or at one time in his life has wanted , to be good at. The imagined

    community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people. The

    Individual, the one who only cheers, becomes a symbol of his nation himself.

    (Hosbawn, cited in Bogdanov, 2011, p. 20)

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    Essentially, Hobsbawn is communicating that sport is very...