Guest Post by *Derek Charles Catsam
I recently returned from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It was a remarkable experience in a beautiful country. Everywhere we went people were gracious, joyful hosts. We ate fantastic churrasqueira (the Brazilian barbecue that will fuel my dreams for months) and drank among friends. The games were tremendous, the colorful visiting fans (with special mention to the dancing, chanting, singing, drinking Argentine throngs) made the World Cup the event that it is. The protests were more intermittent than expected. But the issues raised were as valid as ever.
I was based in Porto Alegre in the state of Rio Grande do Sul on Brazil’s southern border with Uruguay and Argentina. I attended four matches in Estadio Beria-Rio, the home of Sports Club Internacional: France-Honduras, Algeria-South Korea, Argentina-Nigeria, and the round of 16 match pitting eventual champions Germany against the Algeria. With 32 teams competing, the first two weeks of the World Cup are an unparalleled Carnival of Nations. Porto Alegre was in the midst of a Brazilian winter, hardly freezing, but occasionally raw and damp. The bikinis and swimming shorts that many of you saw as the regular going-to-commercial interludes on ESPN were many hundreds of miles north.
The tournament, which equaled the most goals (171) ever scored in a World Cup, was spectacularly entertaining and Germany is certainly a worthy champion. But once the confetti cleared, the last drinks were downed, tourists returned home, and Brazilians shook off the shameful way the Seleção flamed out of the tournament (and I do not for one second believe that the presence of Thiago Silva and Neymar against Germany and the Netherlands would have made much difference—Brazil’s problems were systemic) a familiar question looms: Was hosting the World Cup worth it?
Quinton Fortune played seven seasons with Manchester United and 46 times for South Africa. On September 23, he wrote an excellent piece in The Guardian about a topic dear to me and to many readers of this blog: the impact of the 2010 World Cup on the growth and development of South African football.
Given the billions of rands spent on new and revamped stadiums and transport infrastructure, Fortune asks, was hosting the tournament a boon for the local game? “Judging by the poor attendances at top-flight games not involving the country’s two most popular clubs, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, who are also by far the most powerful in financial terms, and the poor performances of the national team Bafana Bafana, the answer unfortunately has to be a resounding ‘no’,” Fortune writes.
His concerns are numerous, important, and inter-related. The World Cup, Fortune asserts, did nothing to alter the Chiefs-Pirates duopoly, which continues to capture the lion’s share of the attention from fans, media, and sponsorship money. He points out that the quality of play in the Premier Soccer League is not terribly good, as evidenced by last year’s top scorer, Bernard Parker, boasting a meager 10 goals.
Fortune then notes how the swanky World Cup stadiums in Cape Town, Nelspruit, Polokwane, and Port Elizabeth are now massive financial drains on local municipalities struggling to deal with many pressing social needs in perhaps the most unequal country in the world.
The former Man United midfielder does not spare the PSL’s satellite broadcaster, SuperSport, which bankrolls the South African league while offering 24/7 matches and highlights of European football (such as EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Champions League). This contradiction is another reason why the PSL is “losing fans who prefer to watch the football from the comfort of their homes, receiving high definition pictures, while also having a choice of watching (better quality) football from other parts of the world,” says Fortune.
The way forward, Fortune concludes, requires harnessing South Africa’s world-class infrastructure and abundance of football talent to forge “a well-planned development programme which will develop that talent into realising its full potential.” How this should be done is the challenging part.
Recently, I spoke with Liz Timbs, the creator of Imbiza 1.0: A Digital Repository of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Imbiza (http://imbiza.matrix.msu.edu) is an open-access web-based project that uses a highly modified theme on a WordPress framework. Objects contained in Imbiza were catalogued and preserved using KORA, the digital repository and publishing platform developed by Matrix at MSU. Liz is a Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellow and a PhD candidate in African history at Michigan State University. She is a regular contributor to Football Is Coming Home. Follow her on Twitter at @tizlimbs.
I began to develop this idea after an October 2013 session of the Football Scholars Forum on the edited volume, Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space. During the online discussion, the conversation turned to ways of integrating academically-oriented essays like those in Africa’s World Cup with web-based images, videos, and texts produced by non-specialists for a general audience. While this conversation was framed in terms of what could be done for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, I began to wonder how a project like the one being bandied about by these journalists and scholars could be used to help us further understand the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. That’s really where the idea for Imbiza came from.
This repository serves several complementary purposes. First, it provides an opportunity to think about the 2010 tournament in advance of the upcoming World Cup, challenging us to think about how the content created for Brazil 2014 will be preserved as well as the types of content that specialists should be consciously working to either create or capture. Second, I believe that combining African Studies, sport history, and digital humanities—often perceived as “niche” disciplines—challenges conventional conceptions about knowledge production and what kind of scholarship counts. Finally, many of the images and videos in this digital archive illustrate a very important part of the 2010 tournament: the hope it generated among international fans that their teams would go far in the competition and among South Africans that the World Cup would change the image of their nation around the world.
What was your initial vision for the project and why did it change from inception to v. 1.0?
My initial vision for the project was to build a comprehensive digital archive of the World Cup, combining textual, audiovisual, and digital sources. As I started the collection process, I really underestimated the amount of material that I would find. In addition to the submissions I received from my contributors, the textual sources that I uncovered were a bit overwhelming and I had to recalibrate my expectations. With this in mind, I decided to limit my focus to just the stadiums and fan parks. An added benefit of this approach was that it provided a way to use these physical sites as prisms through which to analyze some broader themes around the tournament.
Even with some constraints, however, arranging everything I had into a coherent project was still a daunting task. As I re-evaluated what I collected, I decided for version 1.0 to present only photos and videos that contributors shared with me. In other words, I left out much of the publicly available multimedia record on the web. The audiovisual materials produced by my contributors are so emotive and rich that I knew using these sources would result in a dynamic presentation that would set a high standard for the next phase.
Tell us about the process. How did you set out to collect the audio-visual materials and what was that experience like?
The process, like the project itself, really originated in the Football Scholars Forum. My first step after conceptualizing Imbiza was to reach out on Twitter, asking friends and colleagues (and friends of friends and colleagues) to either contribute their own content or alert others who might have relevant materials to the project. The majority of the project’s content was collected this way, integrating content from Peter Alegi (@futbolprof), Chris Bolsmann (@chrisbolsmann), Marc Fletcher (@marcfletcher1), Duane Jethro (@materialpasts), Kevin Kalinowski, David Patrick Lane (@LosCharruas), Jay Meyer, and Mark Moll. Later, I also made a call for material on various academic listservs and even to some friends on Facebook. That’s why I refer to this project as “digital, from top to bottom.” This collaborative process has been really inspiring and productive for me and I look forward to continue to foster relationships like this for Imbiza and other future projects.
After I received these materials, I began to catalog all of them through KORA. This was probably the most time-consuming task; making entries for each individual object, arranging them by category, and beginning to conceptualize how they could all be grouped together as the site progressed. From there, I started to make mock-ups of the final website (which probably changed five times before I got to the current design). Then, I began programming the site itself, modifying the WordPress theme, and rolling with the (numerous) technical difficulties, eventually getting to what you see on the site today. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s already come a long way!
Tell us about some of your favorite digital World Cup sources. What was most eye-opening about them?
I have two favorite sets of sources from this version of the project. I was probably the most excited about Chris Bolsmann’s photos because a lot of them haven’t been made publicly available before (except a few that were published in Africa’s World Cup). They really capture the different nations’ fan cultures, the atmosphere in the stadiums, and some of the art exhibitions that happened around the tournament, like the Halakasha! exhibit in Johannesburg. Chris’s photos are also quite artistic in their own right. The photo of a fan after Ghana’s loss to Uruguay (see above) is so compelling, juxtaposing the joy of his makarapa, giant glasses, and jersey with the utterly disappointed look on his face.
On the other side of things, I’ve really loved delving into David Patrick Lane’s videos. His interviews with locals, his Gizza series with fans from different countries, and his footage of various Uruguay matches opened my eyes to the tournament in new ways. His interview with Amos, a sanitation worker in Johannesburg, is probably my favorite video in the entire collection. It always makes me smile and, I think, says a lot about the Pan-Africanist sentiment at the tournament. (Shame that Davy’s laptop was stolen towards the end of the tournament. It would have been great to see him do some post-tournament interviews and capture some of the frenzy of Ghana v. Uruguay.)
You called this project “Imbiza 1.0.” What can we expect in version 2.0?
Version 2.0 will include more photos and videos from the 2010 World Cup, as well as a lot of textual sources that I gathered in the collection process. I have a PDF of the entire 2010 Bid Book that I hope to break into smaller segments for easier consumption, as well as a huge number of newspaper articles that I found online. Duane Jethro has provided me with some very exciting and original sources on vuvuzelas that will add a really interesting layer to the next version.
You can also expect the integration of some sources on the upcoming World Cup in Brazil as well as some comparative analysis. I am working to set up a Twitter archive to collect tweets for the 2014 World Cup and I am also beginning to reach out to Brazil experts for sources and ideas. I hope to set up a second World Cup archive for Brazil, tentatively titled Legado; but this second project will depend on the progress I am able to make on Imbiza in the coming months.
Listen to “Beyond Vuvuzelas and Samba: Lessons from South Africa 2010 for Brazil 2014,” a lecture I delivered at Brigham Young University’s David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies on March 5, 2014.
The talk analyzes the political, economic, and cultural dynamics of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and its similarities to the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Click here to watch the video.
Guest Post by *Liz Timbs
In Zulu culture, an imbiza is a large ceramic pot used for brewing utshwala (sorghum beer). This vessel enables the fermentation of a fluid that facilitates communication with the amadlozi (ancestors) and lubricates social interactions. Taking my cue from this vernacular technology, I am launching Imbiza: A Digital Repository of 2010 World Cup Stadiums and Fan Parks—an open access collection of primary sources for brewing ideas and encouraging public dialogue about this defining event in South Africa after apartheid.
The potential for this digital project crystallized during a recent session of the Football Scholars Forum on Alegi and Bolsmann’s new book Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space. During the online discussion, the conversation turned to ways of integrating academically-oriented essays like those in Africa’s World Cup with web-based images, videos, and texts produced by non-specialists for a general audience.
While this idea was initially framed in terms of what could be done for next year’s World Cup in Brazil, the historian in me started thinking about how a project like this could help further understand the 2010 World Cup. Serendipitously, I was also searching for a suitably interesting project to fulfill the requirements of my Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship, a program run by Dr. Ethan Watrall at Michigan State University in collaboration with MATRIX, the digital humanities and social sciences center. After some more pondering and a chat with Peter Alegi, my PhD supervisor (and curator of this blog), I decided to go for it.
In building the Imbiza repository, I aim to integrate openly accessible texts, images, sounds, and videos that capture fans’ perspectives and experiences at World Cup stadiums and fan parks. I’ve already begun to collect materials, so accumulating enough sources surely will not be an issue. Among the main challenges for the project will be organizing, tagging, and presenting the items in an accessible, informed, and compelling manner. My hope is that this project will build a model that can be replicated in the study of future World Cups and mega-events, allowing for critical engagement as well as nostalgic reflection.
I do not want this to be a solitary academic venture; that would get away from the whole point of it. I want Imbiza to stand as a testament to the potential of digital technologies for collaborative knowledge production. I am limited by geography, time, and finances in building this archive from my base in East Lansing, but digital platforms, like this one, can get around some of these obstacles.
So consider this blog post a call; a call for submissions, ideas, and inspiration to make Imbiza a success. With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil just a few months away, the time is now to reflect on the legacies of the 2010 World Cup. Ke nako!
Follow this project’s progress on Twitter via the hashtag #Imbiza and on the project blog. If you have comments, submissions, sources, or questions, please contact me at imbizaarchive AT gmail.com.
*Liz Timbs is a PhD student in African history at Michigan State University. Her research interests are in the history of health and healing in South Africa; masculinity studies; and comparative studies between South Africa and the United States. Follow her on Twitter: @tizlimbs.
By Bruce Berglund (cross-posted from @NewBookSports)
In 2010, for the first time, an African nation hosted the FIFA World Cup. The advertisements surrounding the tournament used graphics and sounds intended to conjure the image of a vibrant, exotic land. In fact, though, the African-ness of the South African World Cup was pretty thin, when not wholly fabricated. For example, the music that introduced ESPN’s World Cup coverage sounded very African, as it opened with the sounding of an ox horn (the promo showed a bare-chested tribesman blowing the horn atop a mountain, silhouetted against the setting sun) and then built with pulsing drums and a choir singing layered refrains. But the piece had been written by a composer from Utah, the musicians had recorded it in Utah, and the choir consisted of members of the Broadway cast of The Lion King. At least Shakira’s ubiquitous song “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” had a more substantial African connection. It had been lifted, initially without credit, from a Cameroonian military song made popular in the 1980s by the group Golden Sounds.
The ironies of the 2010 tournament in South Africa are revealed in a number of essays in Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space (University of Michigan Press, 2013), edited by Peter Alegi and Chris Bolsmann. In the interview with Peter, we learn of the findings and observations of the volume’s contributors: an international collection of anthropologists, architectural critics, bloggers, geographers, sociologists, journalists, photographers, and former players who all attended matches in South Africa. They make sharp criticisms of class divides at the venues, the nationalism and commercialism, and, of course, the imperial reach of FIFA. But as we hear from Peter, the book’s authors were also fans. When mixing with other fans outside the stadiums, and then cheering their teams when the matches began, even normally skeptical academics and journalists were caught up in the event. Their experiences show that, for all its faults, the FIFA World Cup is still an incomparable event.
Click here to download the mp3 of the interview.
Watch this great 20-minute documentary film on the tension and violence that accompanied the memorable Algeria-Egypt 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
Lots of rare footage captures the perspectives and experiences of the Algerian players and officials in both Cairo and Khartoum. Watch as the mainly France-based Les Fennecs players channel fear, insecurity, and rage into a memorable playoff victory and World Cup qualification. The scenes of joyous celebration among the traveling fans and players in Sudan, as well as the partying in the streets of Algiers are something to behold.
The film provides glimpses of both sides of the fútbol-nationalism coin. On the one hand, the Egyptian hooligans’ love of country expresses itself through hatred of the Algerian “other” and spills over into the vicious attacks on the visiting team’s bus depicted in the film. On the other hand, the Algerians’ patriotic unity propels them to victory against their rivals. Raw and riveting stuff.
Thanks to Mezahi Maher (@MezahiMaher) for the English subtitles!