Sunday, March 1, 2009

A country seized by FIFA

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has successfully seized nine South African cities, namely, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Bloemfontein, Rustenburg, Pretoria, and Johannesburg.

Bewildered inhabitants and business owners are battling to come to terms with the fact that they are being kicked around by a football association who happen to own the worldwide marketing rights, media rights and all other commercial rights in respect of this popular ball game. While some people believe that the control measures implemented by FIFA is exactly what South Africa needs to get law and order back on track, others believe that the entire exercise is a huge waste of money, --- money which could rather have been utilized to combat the many social evils the country is facing at present. There is a growing number of South Africans suffering from depression, anxiety, drug addictions, alcohol misuse, poverty, you name it! The invasion of our cities by FIFA has only served to contribute to the crisis. See also roadwork chaos on this blog.


On 31 December 2008, the City of Tshwane/Pretoria published a detailed sequence of legislative measures in order to comply with its obligations as one of the nine South African host cities for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Obviously all nine cities involved have promulgated a similar By-law.

The By-law will come into effective and remain in force on and during the following dates:

2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
8 May 2009 to 31 July 2009
2010 FIFA World Cup
7 May 2010 to 15 August 2010

The legal notice includes provisions and regulations pertaining to:
  • Advertising;
  • Controlled access sites;
  • Public open spaces and city beautification;
  • Public roads and traffic guidance; and
  • Street trading.
As with most legal documents one has to read the thing a couple of times to comprehend what exactly is meant by jargon such as: controlled access sites, exclusion zones, traffic-free zones, prohibited areas, --- and so forth. With a comprehensive list of definitions which describe a variety of terms ranging from “Accreditation “to “Waste”, one eventually gets the full picture, which basically boils down to the fact that our lives are going to be controlled and frustrated like never before in the history of South Africa, --- whether you’re a fan of soccer, or not!

Although the meaning of the term “nuisance” is defined in approximately 346 words, it fails to mention reckless taxi drivers, --- an ongoing public nuisance our local police authorities cannot seem to control.

Businesses in a 1 kilometer radius of the soccer venues will be the worst effected by the control measures. The venue in Pretoria is the Loftus Versfeld stadium. Restrictions will thus affect the densely populated suburbs of Arcadia, Sunnyside and Hatfield. The stadiums however are not the only structures that are defined as so-called “controlled access sites”. Other sites include, among others, accreditation centres, official training sites, FIFA fan parks, and hotels who will be accommodating football teams from across the globe as well as FIFA delegates.

(I have also heard from a reliable source that the employees at Loftus Versfeld will be required to vacate the premises for a period of 6 weeks, to make room for FIFA delegates who will be taking control. I presume this same procedure will be applied to all stadiums in the country.)

Some of the prohibitions applicable to controlled access site are totally outrages. For example: #3.5.10: No person may, except with the written approval of the Municipality, lie, sit, stand, congregate or walk in a manner that otherwise causes an obstruction of any nature whatsoever on any controlled access site, and #3.5.12: No person may, except with the written approval of the Municipality, urinate, excrete or behave or act in a manner that may be considered an act of public indecency on any controlled access site.

The entire document can be downloaded here in pdf format.


It is well worth looking at the enormous amount of security precautions Germany implemented in their 2006 World Cup soccer tournament. I can only presume that many of those same precautions will be implemented in South Africa, with additional improvements.

What did Germany do?

Germany’s list of security precautions was substantial. It began with the use of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology. More than 3.5 million tickets for the 64 matches had an embedded RFID chip containing identification information that was used check against a database as fans passed through entrance gates at all 12 stadiums.

Organizers asked everyone requesting tickets to provide a wealth of personal data, including name, address, date of birth, nationality, and number of ID card or passport. Soccer fans had never before been required to provide so much information about themselves that can be accessed so quickly.

A 24-hour National Information and Cooperation Center, gathered reports from the German police, Interpol, and intelligence services about suspicious activity and coordinated security operations nationwide.

The center was manned by 120 people equipped with a battery of computers and screens offering a bird's-eye view of the World Cup security situation. The screens showed video feeds from surveillance cameras set up to monitor crowds in and around the stadiums as well as in selected public areas.

The stadiums were also equipped with special cameras to record biometric facial features of suspected troublemakers. Video sequences were checked in real time against photos stored in databases.

Another special group, the Central Sports Intelligence Unit, in Neuss near Düsseldorf, received thousands of tips from authorities in nations competing in the World Cup. Their database included information on 6000 hooligans who were already known to police and who posed a direct threat.

Many of the security systems and procedures were tested during the Confederations Cup soccer tournament in Germany a year prior to the main event.

More than 30,000 federal police officers were on duty during the games. Some of them were equipped with mobile "fast identification" fingerprint devices. Fingerprint data captured by the optical devices were used to compare data stored in the central database of the German Federal Intelligence Service. (South Africa will be deploying 41 000 police personnel, who will also be supported by the South African National Defence Force for specific tasks).

The German army kept around 7000 troops on alert, including nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons forces, in addition to 15,000 private security professionals hired by FIFA to help secure the venues. Airspace during matches at the 12 World Cup stadiums were closed in a radius of around 5 kilometers.


My final say on this matter:

The fact that the FIFA World Cup has been promoted as the most coveted sports events on the planet, will not sway me to believe that the majority of soccer fans are a joyful and peaceful bunch of supporters. I’m sure most people reading this will agree that they have a reputation of misbehaving themselves. The disgusting habit of urinating wherever and whenever nature calls is but one of the many illegal activities they will perform without blinking an eye. This is Africa – Not Germany!

See also:
Safety and security promises made by the South African government.

The thought provoking article on the blog of Sarah Maid of Albion: Parallels of Nazism with the ANC


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