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Can Bafana live up to World Cup host team billing?

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blatter_khoza.jpgThere were the predictable platitudes from Sepp Blatter in South Africa this week, expressing satisfaction with the pace of construction of the country’s top stadia ahead of its hosting if the 2010 World Cup finals.

But there was little Swiss diplomacy on display from the FIFA president when dealing with the issue of the country’s national team, Bafana Bafana, whose rapid decline over the last years is now a major source of concern.

For FIFA, the World Cup has become a massive revenue-generating property. Over 80 percent of their considerable income is from sponsors of the tournament. The event has become the world’ biggest party or, as Blatter insisted on his four-day trip to Johannesburg and Cape Town, “the only event that transcends people and politics”. 

Luckily, recent World Cup hosts have produced competitive teams, even when the event went to Asia for the first time in 2002. Then South Korea got to the semifinals and, in the process, created one of the largest street parties ever seen.

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