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Foreshore recce: the mother ship

A representative of Future Cape Town (http://futurecapetown.com/) sent me on a late-night mission to video the neon lights he’d seen on Cape Town’s Foreshore. I parked at the Naspers Centre and went in search of the strange phenomenon. A glimpse of bright colours led me down a dark and dodgy street to the Vodacom data centre on the corner of Louis Gradner Street and Martin Hammerschlag Way (behind the Artscape).

This digital light show forms the building’s façade – a great way to improve a rather bland and inactive neighbourhood. Unfortunately, due to the darkness, I couldn’t capture the context of the display. Suffice it to say that the area is deserted after dark. So what’s the point? I’d like to see something like this in a more vibrant part of town. Check it out:

 

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MyCiTi West Coast service gets into gear, at last

The City of Cape Town today officially launched the MyCiTi West Coast service, to – it has to be said – very little fanfare. I didn’t catch the news tonight, but I’ve found few articles online. The City should sack their PR people. Seriously.

An express service between Table View and the Civic Centre has commenced for testing purposes. Commuters got their first taste this morning. On Saturday, the entire West Coast trunk route between Table View and the CBD will be open, with buses calling at all stations. The temporary Gardens – Waterfront – Civic Centre inner city route will go live on the same day. West Coast feeder services – in Big Bay, Table View, Parklands and Blaauwberg – will begin operating the following Saturday (21 May).

A Cape Town International Airport – Civic Centre route has been on the go for months. For maps and more information, visit the City’s official IRT site here.


The central IRT station at the monolithic Civic Centre

To summarise the business plan: the City owns the infrastructure, while private companies run the actual service. The three companies involved are Transpeninsula (made up of inner city taxi associations), Golden Arrow and Kidrogen (made up of West Coast taxi associations and Sibanye).

Branding and delays aside, West Coast commuters, what do you think? Any comments? Preferably none from the inherently negative private ownership brigade please.

From my side, as soon as I get a taste of the inner city loops, I will report back.

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The curse of the Nike Write the Future ad

Nike and Adidas share one of football’s enduring rivalries. The sportswear giants have wrestled for exposure for decades, using large tournaments to outdo each other in the publicity stakes. At the 2010 World Cup, the American company’s representation was relatively low. Nine of the 32 competing teams wore Nike kits, while 12 were supplied by Adidas. The latter was also an official partner of the spectacle – providing the match ball – and has traditionally had strong ties with Fifa, in a relationship that dates back 30 years.

Nike had a secret weapon, however. According to reports by Nielsen, a worldwide media information company, in the run up to the World Cup, Nike’s “Write the Future” campaign generated more online attention than a campaign by its European counterpart.

The advertising coup was extraordinary. The same cannot be said for the World Cup performances of most of the footballers who appeared in the advert.

Franck Ribéry (France) and Wayne Rooney (England) both underperformed, failing to score even one goal between them. Their respective sides made early exits, with Les Bleus flying home in a storm of controversy (Ribéry had been involved in a changing room mutiny).

Fabio Cannavaro, who captained Italy to World Cup victory in 2006, was humiliated when his team finished at the bottom of their group in 2010, below modest New Zealand. Portugal too were unable to match the hype that surrounded them, falling to Iberian rivals Spain in the round of 16. Ronaldo scored 33 goals for Real Madrid last season, but managed only one in South Africa.

Two of the commercial’s stars never made it to the field. Ronaldhino and Theo Walcott were overlooked for the Brazil and England squads respectively.

Didier Drogba was another high-profile casualty, fracturing his right arm prior to the tournament during a friendly with Japan. Ivory Coast failed to advance from the “group of death”. The striker’s goal against Brazil, the first scored against the reigning South American champions by a player from an African side in a World Cup match, was little consolation.

The ad depicted these players taking charge of their futures; using their talent to make crucial interventions in games and, by extension, positive changes to their lives and those of their countrymen. Real life saw them fail to live up to their billing at the 2010 World Cup, prompting more buzz online. Many commented that the Write the Future campaign was cursed.

Nike’s fortunes seemed for a while to mirror the action on field. In early July, Nielsen released a follow-up report which stated that Adidas had gained the status of the most talked about World Cup-related brand during the first two weeks of the tournament. Adidas’s buzz accounted for 25% of the top 10 official sponsors and their competitors, nearly 6% more than Nike during the same period. This was ostensibly due to a new Star Wars-themed TV advert launched by the German company, as well as controversy surrounding the Jabulani ball.

By the time Andrés Iniesta slotted in his winning goal for Spain during the final on 11 July (wearing an Adidas-supplied kit and a pair of Nike CTR360 boots, no less) the lines had blurred somewhat. The sportswear rivals were neck and neck, with analysts citing no clear victor in the publicity war. It was, nevertheless, a triumph for Nike, who tapped into an audience of 2.5 billion World Cup followers worldwide without being an official sponsor of the event. The Write the Future ad campaign proved to be a bad luck charm for most of the players involved, but it wrote the cheques for the American multinational.

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Goal-line technology back in the spotlight

Frank Lampard’s controversial disallowed goal against Germany in their round of 16 encounter in Bloemfontein helped reignite the goal-line technology (GLT) debate. The England midfielder’s 39th minute shot bounced off the crossbar and, as replays showed, passed the line by nearly a metre. This was not seen by either the referee or the linesman. Fabio Capello’s side would go on to lose 4-1.

This slip-up denied England an important equaliser, one that might have affected the outcome of the game. The dropping of a two-goal lead could have had a disastrous impact on the collective psyche of the young German team. Nevertheless, it was the English who lost the battle of morale. Their desperate scramble to draw level in the second half opened the door to two consecutive counter-attack goals, scored by Thomas Müller, in the 67th and 70th minutes.

Following the game Frank Lampard declared the introduction of goal-line technology a “no-brainer”. His voice, like many managers and players before him, went directly against the position of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who has for several years been a vocal opponent of GLT.

Technology has long been employed to assist officials in tennis and rugby, but Fifa is loath to embrace it. The governing body argues GLT will widen the divide between amateur and professional football. They also maintain that external aids will slow down the flow of play.

Proponents of technology cite the high stakes in competitions such as the World Cup as the rationale for its application. Their voices prompted Fifa to consider two options in the past; the Hawk-Eye, as used in professional tennis and cricket, and the so-called Cairos GLT System, developed by Cairos Technologies AG. Both, however, were officially ruled out after an International Football Association Board (IFAB) meeting in March 2010. To date, no goal-line technology has been used in a competitive football match.

In the wake of high-profile errors, like Lampard’s disallowed goal, the pressure on Fifa to reconsider their stance continued to mount. The governing body was forced to take another look at the issue. On 20 October 2010, IFAB convened for its Annual Business Meeting in Newport, Wales, where members agreed to reopen GLT discussions. The end of November was set as a deadline for companies to pitch their technologies to Fifa. Uefa president Michel Platini has since entered the fray, warning that the adoption of goal-line technology will turn the beautiful game into “PlayStation football”.

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Travel shorts: Johannesburg, city of bold

At last, a post on South Africa’s biggest city.

Cape Town is awash with GP number plates during December. So after Christmas, to escape the Vaalies, I took a trip to Johannesburg, where I welcomed 2011. I stayed with a friend in Auckland Park (or Brixton, depending on who I asked). Leafy suburbs like Melville, Greenside and Emmarentia were intriguing and fun, but unsurprisingly it was the massive, almost dystopian, city centre that fascinated me most. The CBD and Hillbrow are crumbling monuments to the gold rush, their buildings standing tall despite a period of unprecedented decay. Johannesburg seems proudly dodgy. I respect that. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Bold infrastructure projects, like Gautrain, are signs of a resurgence.

Hillbrow is a notorious neighbourhood of inner city Jo’burg. Its residential tower blocks are pretty unique on the South African landscape.

Graffiti in Newtown:

Johannesburg is a young metropolis. Unlike the laidback Mother City, which seems set – nay, comfortable – in her ways, Jo’burg feels like a city where change happens at very short notice. Its rapid development during the 20th century is a testament to this. Today, with the gold-mining industry apparently in decline, its glory days may well be over, but the city continues to surprise and amaze. It is certainly at the vanguard of public infrastructure development in South Africa.

For contrast; behold, Gautrain:

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Fifa clear North Korea over alleged player punishment

After an official investigation, Fifa has dismissed claims that the Korea DPR football team were punished for their lacklustre performance at the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa.

In a statement, Fifa said, “The [North Korean] FA assures Fifa that Mr Kim Jong-hun, the head coach of the national team, and all the other members of the national team are training as usual.”

The world governing body has traditionally taken a hard line against state interference in the beautiful game. South Africa was suspended from international football in the 1960s due to its national side’s whites-only policy. It was expelled indefinitely in 1976 after the Soweto uprising.

Korea DPR’s World Cup campaign began in earnest, with an impressive performance against Brazil. Their organised defence saw them concede only two goals to the South American giants, who clinched a narrow 2-1 victory. This was seen as a shock result, given that Kim Jong-hun’s side entered the tournament ranked 105 in the world.

It prompted North Korean authorities to forego convention and allow live broadcasting of their following game against Portugal, a match in which the Chollima were thrashed 7-0. A subsequent 3-0 defeat at the hands of Ivory Coast concluded their disappointing run. Jokes satirising North Korea’s poor human rights record and the fate that could befall the notorious nation’s football team quickly became the order of the day.

The laughter subsided, however, when it was reported by US-based Radio Free Asia that the side had been publicly shamed upon their return home. Citing as its source an unnamed Chinese businessman, it was alleged that the entire team had been summoned to the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, where they were berated in front of an auditorium of athletes and sports students by sports minister Pak Myong-chol. The dressing-down supposedly went on for a full six hours and included a personal criticism of each player by a prominent sports commentator.

Coach Kim Jong-hun was said to have borne the brunt of the abuse. He was reportedly expelled from the Workers’ Party of Korea and forced into hard labour on a residential construction site. North Korean media kept mum, neither confirming nor denying the reports.

Rumours subsequently emerged that Kim had been given another chance to coach the national side. His status as coach has been confirmed by Fifa, though it remains unknown whether earlier reports of his dismissal are accurate. The former Korea DPR defender led the side to its first World Cup qualification in 44 years.

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“My name’s Pavlos, and I actually need the toilet.”

On 20 June, Sunday Mirror writer Simon Wright reported that an England supporter had stumbled into the Three Lions‘ changing room, where he berated the team, and David Beckham, for its “disgraceful” performance against Algeria.

The intruder, one Pavlos Joseph – a mortgage advisor from Crystal Palace in London – was said to have accidentally found his way into the changing room at Cape Town Stadium when he went in search of a toilet 45 minutes after the final whistle. Wright apparently secured the story in what he described as an “old-fashioned scoop”.

Joseph returned to the UK with a unique souvenir from his South African holiday; a criminal record for entering a designated area without accreditation, i.e. trespassing.

Meanwhile, the South African Police Service (SAPS) accused Wright of orchestrating the entire affair with a view to tarnishing the country’s image. The reporter was arrested at Cape Town International Airport on charges of defeating the ends of justice for allegedly harbouring Joseph in the incident’s aftermath. Days later, a charge of fraud was also laid against him.

Police commissioner General Bheki Cele claimed in a press conference that CCTV footage existed proving the two men had met in the tunnel at the England vs. Algeria game. It was alleged that Wright had entered a false name in a hotel register – an immigration law misdemeanour – in the wake of the incident.

The reporter paid an admission of guilt fine for the latter in exchange for all other charges against him being dropped, allowing him to go home to his family.

Upon his return to the UK, he attempted to salvage his reputation through his Sunday Mirror column. Wright insisted he had asked hotel staff to change his name in the register in order to prevent rival journalists from sniffing him out and stealing his exclusive. He denied harbouring Joseph and asserted that the SAPS had used him as a “scapegoat” for their own inadequacies.

South African officials were obviously embarrassed by the lapse in security, particularly as British princes William and Harry had visited Fabio Capello’s men ten minutes prior to the incident. It was a blow to a country that had gone to enormous lengths to shake off its lawless image abroad. Over R1.3 billion had been invested to ensure that the World Cup was uneventful off the pitch; significant amounts of which were dedicated to player security.

Wright’s alleged involvement in the changing room invasion was never proved in court. No CCTV footage has come to light to back up Cele’s claims. The question remains: just how did a seemingly random member of the crowd get the opportunity to confront the English football team?

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 18 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 20 posts. There were 3 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 214kb.

The busiest day of the year was February 3rd with 128 views. The most popular post that day was Show review: Top Gear Live at the Grand West Arena, 30 January 2010.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were skyscrapercity.com, facebook.com, twitter.com, andrewcusack.com, and obama-scandal-exposed.co.cc.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for brent smith brt, lg building cape town, thibault square, muizenberg crime, and thibault square cape town.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Show review: Top Gear Live at the Grand West Arena, 30 January 2010 February 2010
2 comments

2

Riding a wave of change: Muizenberg, from fashionable Victorian resort town to practical modern suburb February 2010
9 comments

3

Thibault Square – European-style piazza at the heart of central Cape Town March 2010
3 comments

4

Cape Town IRT brand identity revealed May 2010
3 comments

5

About November 2009

Bavaria babes take centre stage at Soccer City

Big companies like Adidas and Coca-Cola devote sizable chunks of their marketing budgets to sponsoring the Fifa World Cup, which provides them with massive worldwide exposure and immeasurable returns. Imagine, however, that you’re the CEO of a smaller corporation; one without the cash to join the party. Is there still a way to profit from the biggest show on earth? Executives at Dutch brewery Bavaria must have had this discussion before coming up with their ingenious, if controversial, solution to the problem of competing with the big boys.

During the Netherlands vs. Denmark game at Soccer City, 36 blondes in the crowd stripped down to reveal orange mini-dresses, in what the BBC described as a “gimmick designed to capture the attention of the world’s media.” it was successful. The cameras focused on the women periodically throughout the match. However, the incident also drew the ire of Fifa officials, who ejected the “Bavaria babes” from the stadium in the second half. Two Dutch women were arrested under the Contravention of Merchandise Marks Act (which prevents companies from benefiting from an event without paying for advertising) and accused of organising an ambush marketing campaign.

Ambush marketing? An orange mini-dress had previously been modelled by Dutch WAG Sylvie van der Vaart on behalf of Bavaria Breweries, creating an association between the dresses and the company. It emerged later that Bavaria had given the dresses to the Soccer City women and arranged for them to attend the match.

Why was this a big deal? Budweiser, as an official sponsor of the 2010 World Cup, had paid for exclusive representation at the event. In other words, Fifa committed to keeping advertising from rival breweries out of stadiums and fan parks. The football governing body’s heavy-handed removal of the 36 women from Soccer City, however, only fanned the fire of publicity. This all ensured that Bavaria Breweries, by literally standing out from the crowd, outshined its much larger rival. For minimal cash they briefly took centre stage.

Charges against the two Dutch women were later dropped. Fifa settled with Bavaria, with both parties agreeing to refrain from making any further public comments about the incident.

In a twist, TV personality Robbie Earle was implicated and consequently sacked from British broadcaster ITV. It emerged that complimentary tickets given to the football pundit had been used by the Bavaria babes to attend the Netherlands vs. Denmark game. Earle denies profiting from the exchange, insisting that he gave tickets to a friend, who, unbeknownst to Earle, passed them on to Bavaria.

This was the second time the Dutch brewery had been involved in a World Cup ambush marketing attempt. In 2006, during a match between Holland and Ivory Coast, spectators wearing Bavaria-branded lederhosen (known as Leeuwenhosen) were ordered by officials to remove the offending items of clothing, which were deemed to be in contravention of Fifa’s strict marketing policies.

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Jumping Jimmy strikes again

Moments before the 2010 Fifa World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands, notorious serial pitch-invader Jaume Marquet i Cot, aka Jimmy Jump, made his presence known at a heavily policed Soccer City. The 34-year-old Spaniard surpassed his previous showmanship by running onto football’s biggest stage and attempting to place a traditional red Catalan cap (barretina) on the World Cup trophy. He was promptly tackled by security and fined R2000 for his trouble. This was his latest stunt in a long list of humorous attempts at sabotage.

Jimmy Jump, a well-known Barcelona fan, has interfered in several major football matches in the past, including the 2007 Uefa Champions League final and the 2006 Champions League semi-final between Villareal and Arsenal. At the latter, he handed Thierry Henry a Barcelona jersey emblazoned with Henry’s name and the number 14. The striker later transferred to Barca, taking that very number.

His stunt targets have not been limited to the realm of football. Marquet was arrested in 2009 for attempting to place a barretina, a symbol of Catalan independence, on Roger Federer’s head during the French Open final. This “crowning” of the tennis star was allegedly a gesture against his rival Rafael Nadal, a Real Madrid supporter, and saw the prankster facing a possible prison sentence.

In 2010, just weeks prior to the Fifa World Cup, he gatecrashed the hugely popular Eurovision Song Contest, walking on stage and participating in the routine of fellow Spaniard Daniel Diges’ backup dancers during the group’s performance of “Algo pequeñito” (“Something tiny”).

In his most daring stunt, Marquet ran through the starting grid during the warm-up lap of the 2004 Spanish Grand Prix.

The Catalonian’s “performances” have often taken a political turn. Indeed, he sported a t-shirt emblazoned with “Jimmy Jump against racism” for his World Cup final appearance.

Jimmy Jump has emerged as a controversial figure in world sport. His manager, Alex Sola, says, “Jimmy does what he does because he feels free.” Marquet himself describes “jumping” as his “destiny”. He claims to be heavily in debt due to all the fines he receives, and lives off donations from his fans. He is not without his fair share of detractors though, with many football aficionados regarding him as nothing more than an attention seeker.

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