World Cup soccer: Why S. Africa booed concert headlined by Shakira
FIFA failed to include a single South African act in a June 10 concert to kick off the World Cup soccer tournament this summer in South Africa. After a minor uproar, they added five new acts to a list topped by Shakira.
Johannesburg, South Africa
When South Africa officially welcomes the world to the World Cup next month, complete with a concert headlined by Shakira, few fans will realize what a controversy nearly marred that first impression.Skip to next paragraph
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As World Cup organizer, FIFA (officially known as the International Federation of Association Football) last week named Shakira’s “Waka Waka” the theme song and tapped top Western artists including Alicia Keys and Black Eyed Peas – but few South African acts.
That caused a minor uproar among musicians here. How, they argued, can FIFA bring hundreds of thousands of tourists and sports fans all the way to Africa's most developed country at the continent's southern tip and not put South African artists up on stage?
On May 4, FIFA corrected all that, adding South African acts Freshlyground (previously scheduled only as a backup band to Shakira), Hugh Masekela, the Soweto Gospel Choir, and Somali hip-hop star K’naan.
The uproar may be bewildering for a country that already has a guaranteed month of the world’s attention, but it speaks volumes about the passion that South Africans feel about their music and about the economic benefits of the World Cup.
“When we got the World Cup, people were really planning on how they will get rich, start a bed-and-breakfast, but people didn’t really understand how FIFA operates,” says Khaya Dlanga, a Johannnesburg-based newspaper columnist.
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With all of its stadiums completed, two major new airport refurbishments done, a new bus system and new commuter rail system operating, and almost all tickets to the games sold out (the largest chunk of them to South Africans, followed by Americans) South Africa would seem to have little to complain about.
The arrival of hundreds of thousands of sports fans into South Africa would seem to be that rising sea that lifts all boats, even those moored far from all those football stadiums.