Soccer fever has gripped Kenya in the lead-up to the World Cup in South Africa next year.
The FIFA World Cup trophy is touring Africa to in the lead-up to the finals in South Africa in June next year. The 225-day tour began on September 21 in Cairo.
Soccer Betting is wildly popular in Africa, even though the best an African team has done in a World Cup is a spot in the quarter-finals. Cameroon achieved the feat in 1990 under the spell of 38-year-old talisman Roger Milla.
Senegal made it in 2002. Keen followers of the game here reckon that were it not for suspect refereeing, the two teams might have reached the semis.
The World Cup is one of the most watched global events. New York-based IPG Media, one of the big four global advertising holding companies, reports that the 2006 FIFA World Cup had an average of 95 million viewers per match.
But the World Cup marketing here is defying common sense. Starting in 2006, FIFA in conjunction with Coca Cola launched the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour.
“world football’s greatest prize is set to embark on its longest ever global tour, with FIFA and The Coca-Cola Company taking the real solid-gold trophy to 86 countries during a 225-day journey and allowing thousands of fans to enjoy a rare close-up view of the authentic FIFA World Cup Trophy. The trophy will travel 134,017 kilometres (83,274 miles) and visit every nation in Africa (except war torn Somalia) to give African fans the once-in-a-lifetime experience of having their picture taken with the trophy.”
There is something ridiculous about a whole continent going gaga about a trophy it has not won. Trophies are for winning, not for goggling at. FIFA calls the trophy soccer’s Holy Grail. But Holy Grail is mythical. There is nothing mythical about the FIFA trophy. It goes to the country that invests in its soccer betting.
The trophy’s sojourn in Kenya encapsulated the absurdity of this 21st century idolatry. Like a VIP, the trophy was received by both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the airport.
These two politicians who — on paper — are in a power-sharing arrangement had first to be educated on the protocols of handling the trophy. Only the players of winning teams and heads of states can touch the trophy. So Mr Kibaki, being the head of state, was the only Kenyan who could even touch it. Got it? No power-sharing here.
This tormented Mr Odinga, a keen soccer fan, especially since Mr Kibaki is an avid golfer with no known interest in soccer.
But despite the farcical elements in this comedy, the government’s two-faced stupidity was enough to make you weep.
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