600 FNB branches in South Africa failed soccer fans today. I waited at my branch for hours with students, cops, lecturers, government employees, farmers, housewives and South Africans from other walks of life only to be told that ‘the system was down’.

We waited with Job-like patience, hoping against hope that we could buy a ticket for a seat at stadiums built with the people’s tax money.


When people ask me ‘Who will win the 2010 World Cup’ I tell them either Spain or England. Loaded with talent in the middle and up front, Spain have been magnificent in the past 3 years, as the Euro 2008 crown and the subsequent winning streak demonstrated.

Meanwhile, Capello has resurrected an English side that didn’t even qualify for Euro 2008, mixing tactical acumen with more traditional Anglo attributes and an experienced player corps.


In two weeks time the ageing David Beckham has to return to the United States and play for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS (against the New York Red Bulls at Giant Stadium outside New York City). In January this year, Beckham left the MLS mid-season to go play for AC Milan in Italy’s Serie A. Blasphemous to the MLS. Not surprisingly, Beckham has not been very enthusiastic about returning to the US. In 2007 Beckham had arrived, with much fanfare, at the Galaxy.

What happens after the World Cup?

Football is often described as the “beautiful game”. Indeed, it is. As Michael Worsnip pointed out recently (The Witness, June 12), football on the local recreation ground reduces the possibility that young people will be tempted into crime. And, of course, South Africa will host a successful Fifa World Cup next year — if it tries hard enough. All of this is obvious. But what is crucially missing from public debate are a number of awkward political, economic and social questions.