Maybe Sepp Blatter couldn’t shut up with his ridiculous blathering this weekend because he hoped to occlude some bad news from both South Africa and Brazil. There have long been concerns about the safety and infrastructure in both places ahead of the World Cups in 2010 and 2014 respectively, and those were seemingly amplified this weekend.
In South Africa, a retired Austrian footballer, Pieter Burgstaller, was shot dead on a golf course near Durban. Meanwhile, Oliver Bierhoff had his briefcase stolen on the way to the World Cup draw. The truth is, that isn’t exactly a crime wave that should stop the World Cup going ahead in South Africa, even if crime remains a concern there.
In Brazil, the partial collapse of the Fonte Nova stadium reminds us of the terrible state of stadium infrastructure there. Jose Roberto Bernasconi, head of the national association of engineering and architecture companies, told Reuters that “Many stadiums are in an absolutely deplorable state,” and that 80% need structural repairs. Again, though, the relevance to the World Cup could easily be overstated — a new stadium was planned to replace the Fonte Nova in time for 2014 anyway.
But I’ve already seen a professional soccer writer vow to spend 2010 at home due to fears about safety. I think that’s an overreaction, myself. Would you turn down the chance to go to either event? I know I wouldn’t.