Thursday, November 15, 2012

When money is the victim

The Zambian national team took South Africa's Bafana Bafanato the cleaners with a 1-0 win after a lethal Mbesuma strike in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup. The African champions were in no mood for charitable behaviour and did not respect their hosts, as they have always done in the conquest for the continent.

This leads us to one story. Bad economy does not make bad football; neither does a good economic environment directly translate to excellent football. Good football can stand the test of times; small population, war or famine. Football survives these tough times.

Ethiopia was a powerhouse during the most devastating human catastrophe of the 1980s. Their athletes excelled in international events. The issue of the game as a profession has pushed stakes the other way, making us believe it takes a good economy to play football.

Looking at the economically collapsing Greece, they were European champions a few years ago, though it could be argued their financial situation was sound then. Still, how much is the population of Greece? Just about the size of a small city.
Cape Verde success to AFCON 2013 at the expense of Cameroon is one to look and think again about what it means to play with passion and pride. Intimidation has always been said to be a self-destructive button used as a scapegoat by the under-achievers. Form books were torn apart as a small nation wrote their own history, and in what style.

Thiers follows another fairy tale of the Botswana in the last AFCON. The Zebras last year made waves by beating and out-qualifying former champions, Tunisia. Their performance in the tourney was not that bad either.

Spain won the FIFA 2010 World Cup, yet they are the poorest European country. They have a financial crisis that threatens global markets every now and then, yet the conquered the European continent nonetheless.

One can go on about how the Central African Republic and Gabon rose in Africa to be among the best 10 countries in Africa, at the expense of South Africa and say, Zimbabwe. Bafana Bafana flop and flop without shame and with chilling accuracy despite healthy budgets and well-funded ABSA Premier League.

As for England’s over-rating as the owners of the game, their being masters of their destiny is always questionable regardless of whatever image is portrayed. More is expected given the popularity of their league.

Around the middle of things, there is a neutralization of that picture. The United Arab Emirates’ rising can be a silver lining in that dark cloud as it can be argued that the petrodollar is driving the game up in the Middle East in general, but the sustainability of that upward movement is still to be seen.

I must emphasise the gripping and addictive acceptance of mediocrity by both South Africa and Zimbabwe. While the 2013 AFCON hosts are void of suitable material, their northern neighbours brew their fate without end and shamelessly.

The contrast does not end there. South Africa have the financial resources while Zimbabwe always sing the blues. However, one cannot remember the last time any of these teams qualifying for anything. Bafana have had the luck of playing without qualifying, but how long will that go on?  

At the end of the day, it is all propaganda and money is the victim.