Near fiasco for SA Afcon
Tickets for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is to be held in our country in January, went on sale this week, or so we were made to believe.
Local organising committee CEO Mvuzo Mbebe has been doing the rounds and telling all forms of media about the LOC's readiness to host the continent's premier soccer tournament.
Mbebe called in to a breakfast radio talk show this week to boldly declare the immediate availability of tickets on the internet and at a supermarket chain. He said the LOC was putting a total of 500,000 tickets up for sale and was confident of achieving maximum sales.
Unfortunately, it did not take long for callers to start exposing that the LOC did not exactly have all its ducks in a row.
It turned out that the said stores - or at least some of them - did not have the goods ready for what should be the country's most eagerly awaited sporting highlight of the 2013 calendar. This was fast turning into the public relations disaster it should never have been allowed to be.
It might, in the greater scheme of things, turn out to have been little more than a storm in a tea cup, but South Africa has garnered so much experience organising international events to be caught napping like this.
Perception is reality for many and any perceived incompetence tainting the 2013 Afcon will only serve to undermine the success of the tournament.
We note with concern that beyond Mbebe's regular airtime on radio and TV, there is little trumpeting of the tournament on any media. Now, contrast that with the hype around the 2010 World Cup months and even years ahead of the tournament and you'll realise the enormity of the task the LOC is saddled with.
Our years of isolation from the rest of the continent have unfortunately left us a nation that is in the main clueless about what Africa is up to. Beyond the familiar Didier Drogbas, Asamoah Gyans and other famed African footballers, the South African soccer consumer knows little about the game on the continent.
Should most of Africa's football powerhouses fail to qualify, as was the case at the last edition of Afcon in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, organisers may find it extremely difficult to sell the product to the public.
As a result, we might have the show playing out to row upon row of empty seats.
Fortunately, the big guns are seemingly mostly on course to make the trip here and that just might spare the LOC, and the country at large, some blushes.