In 2006 before the last World Cup finals newspapers in Europe were awash with reports that 40,000 prostitutes were being smuggled into Germany. The women were set to be trafficked from unnamed Eastern European countries. When the European Union finally completed an investigation into these claims, it found a grand total of just 5 cases of trafficking. That same number is now being bandied around ahead of this year’s tournament in South Africa. Again the prostitutes will be sourced from Eastern Europe. The best takes on this nonsense come from web publication, Spiked (here and here), and my friend Brett Davidson.
In other cases some journalists have discovered the World Cup will take place against the backdrop of massive inequality and poverty (like The New York Times did on their front page last weekend). Really that’s news. You didn’t know that when South Africa was awarded the World Cup? Of course that’s a scandal, but that’s not news. There have been those who assumed South Africa and Angola are the same country. Others like the BBC predictably sensationalized gang violence in Cape Town ahead of the World Cup. This is despite the fact that most people know, including many Britons who travel to South Africa regularly, that the city’s World Cup venue is well insulated from the gang violence, just as it is when there is no World Cup. And just as it was, and is, when international cricket and rugby tournaments are held in South Africa.
But I forgot, this is football.