Two weeks ago Mayor Patricia de Lille hinted at a ‘high profile’ event that was still under wraps then, that could make up for Cape Town not having been made it as host city for the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament in January/February next year.  A surprise is that the announcement of an ‘8 Nations Under 20 international Football Challenge 2012′, which will be held in Cape Town from next Friday until 3 June, was only made two days ago!  With such a short lead time, and virtually no information to be found about the event, the soccer tournament is unlikely to be beneficial to tourism in Cape Town, and will not compensate for the failed bid in hosting Afcon next year. The soccer tournament next week is a sad attempt by the City of Cape Town to save face!

We wrote last week that losing the bid to be a host city for Afcon 2013 is a major tourism blow for Cape Town, and is a further disaster created by our City’s Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Councillor Grant Pascoe, also having cost our city the Heineken Cup final earlier this year.

The City of Cape Town media release, issued yesterday, announces the tournament, organised by the City of Cape Town in conjunction with the Cape Town branch of the South African Football Association (SAFA) with a financial contribution by the Western Cape government, is to be played both at Cape Town Stadium and at Athlone Stadium in eight matches.  Teams from South Africa, Argentina, Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, Japan, Cameroon, and Kenya are participating in the soccer tournament, seen as preparation for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup to be held in Turkey next year.

According to the release, Cape Town is hosting the ‘renowned bi-annual tournament for the second time, after a successful inauguration tournament in 2010, prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup’.  No reference about the 2010 event could be found via a Google search, making the claim of it being ‘renowned’ untruthful and an overclaim!  Even worse, the release positions the event in the league of the Pick ‘n Pay Argus Cycle Tour and the ‘Old Mutual Town (sic) Oceans marathon’, and says that it helps to achieve its goal of positioning Cape Town as the Events Capital of Africa!  Magnifying its exaggeration, the release states that the soccer tournament will launch the future local and international careers of soccer players. Ivan Meyer, the MEC for Sport and Cultural Affairs in the province, said the the soccer tournament would position Cape Town as a ‘soccer-friendly city’, reports The New Age, ironic given that Councillor Pascoe was argumentative with the SAFA when bidding for host city of Afcon, and so lost the bid!

Interesting is that Cape Town Tourism, funded by the City of Cape Town, has not yet Tweeted about the event, preferring to focus on the floating of the beached Japanese trawler on Clifton’s First Beach yesterday. No media release has been issued by the tourism body either, proving that it does not see the tourism benefit of the soccer tournament!

The City will be using the services of 150 volunteers to run the event. Tickets cost R50 for ‘grand stand’ tickets and R20 for ‘open stand’ seats, and are for sale at Computicket. The match schedule is as follows:

Athlone Stadium

Date Time Fixture
25 May 2012 18:00 South Africa v/s Argentina
20:30 Ghana v/s Nigeria
29 May 2012 18:00 South Africa v/s Nigeria
20:30 Argentina v/s Ghana
30 May 2012 18:00 Brazil v/s Japan
20:30 Cameroon v/s Kenya
1 June 2012 18:00 Semi Final 1
20:30 Semi Final 2

Cape Town Stadium:

Date Time Fixture
26 May 2012 14:00 Kenya v/s Japan
16:30 Brazil v/s Cameroon
27 May 2012 14:00 South Africa v/s Ghana
16:30 Argentina v/s Nigeria
28 May 2012 18:00 Brazil v/s Kenya
20:30 Cameroon v/s Japan
3 June 2012 14:00 3rd v/s 4th
16:30 Final

POSTSCRIPT 23/5: Cape Town Tourism has only written about the soccer tournament on its website today, two days before its start. There is no publicity about this non-event!  The Twitter page (@8Nations) only has 72 followers!

POSTSCRIPT 24/5: The Cape Times has reported that the Fan Walk will be opened for the Final on 3 June.  To date there has been no publicity to encourage locals to participate.  The article also states that the City of Cape Town is paying the South African Football Association R1,5 million as a ‘grant in aid’, while the Western Cape government has ‘in principle committed’ the same amount.

POSTSCRIPT 27/5: The Weekend Argus yesterday billed the effect of the soccer tournament on Cape Town’s hospitality industry as a ‘mid-winter tourist boost’, a dishonest report – Cape Town has never been quieter!  Ivan Meyer, the province’s Minister of Cultural Affairs, Sport and Recreation, who does not handle the tourism portfolio, stated that the tournament would impact on the economy of the province, through ‘ticket sales, accommodation, flights, etc’. Cape Town Chamber of Commerce President Michael Bagraim, known for his media gaffes, reinforced the exaggerated benefit of the tournament: ‘Bagraim added that a major event such as this was similar to the festive season. bringing a great deal of money into the city’!  One wonders why these two personalities, and the Weekend Argus with it, are misleading the tourism industry and the Cape Town public in this report. SAFA Cape Town President Norman Arendse pointed out that the 8 Nations Under-20 soccer challenge should not be seen as a ‘replacement’ for losing out on being an AFCON host city next year.

POSTSCRIPT 27/5: Cape Town Tourism, the city’s tourism marketing body funded by the Councillor Pascoe’s department, has only Tweeted once about the soccer tournament, signalling its lack of tourism interest in the event!

POSTSCRIPT 28/5: We received the following e-mail from Wadia Sinclair, with some valid questions:

“Good day, After reading some of the comments I would like to give version:

This tournament was poorly advertised.

Parking a major problem @ CT Stadium, all parking around the stadium was cordoned off. WHY??????

Why do we have to buy eats inside the stadium at RIDICULOUS prices? I would rather bring my own eats than have all these vendors walking up & down pass me. Is this stadium not for the PEOPLE….

We as a family enjoy soccer but please why all the inconvenience”.

POSTSCRIPT 28/5: The 8 Nations Under 20 soccer tournament ticket sales must be so poor that they are offering a free ticket for every ticket bought for the Semi Final or Final, Councillor Pascoe Tweeted today!

POSTSCRIPT 28/5:  Councillor Pascoe appears to be getting annoyed  about the feedback in this blogpost, making the following statement on Twitter this evening: you don’t have a mandate to speak on behalf of anybody”!

POSTSCRIPT 29/5: The Cape Times reported today that the support of the soccer tournament has been so poor in terms of attendance that Cape Town faces the danger of not hosting the 2014 Eight Nation Under 20 soccer tournament. There is an admission that the free ticket give-away is to attract a greater attendance.


Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage