Johannesburg — SMALL businesses were given an opportunity to share in the Soccer World Cup pie when Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan announced yesterday that they would be allowed to trade at Fifa’s official public viewing events during the global showpiece. Fifa’s stringent regulations are expected to keep small business away from the stadiums next year, but Jordaan said informal traders — who have been a part of South African football for decades — would be allowed to operate freely at the fan parks that will be built at the nine World Cup host cities to give supporters who do not have tickets an opportunity to watch all 64 matches on giant television screens.

“The ladies who usually sell food at the stadiums finally get a chance and they will be encouraged to give international fans a taste of our local cuisine,” Jordaan said. Stadiums are usually a mixture of smells on match days, and anything from pap, lamb and chicken to delicacies such as sheep’s head and tongue can be purchased at the front gate. The ultimate stadium accessory — the “cellular” — can also be found at almost all of the stadiums and informal traders usually struggle to keep up with the demand for the nips of brandy sold illegally outside all of SA’s football venues.

The local stadium entrepreneurs will be pleased to know there were 18-million visitors to the fan parks during the 2006 World Cup in Germany and they consumed more than 3,5-million litres of beer because entrance was free. Jordaan said entrance would be free again and those fans who cannot get stadium tickets will be accommodated at fan parks in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Rustenburg, Nelspruit, Polokwane and Pretoria. “The fans can look forward to this because they will be in a safe and secure environment. The only thing anyone can complain about is the noise level (from vuvuzelas).”

Transport to the fan parks — which will be run as joint ventures between the host cities and Fifa — is expected to be provided and organisers say the ambiance at these events will be similar to that inside the stadiums hosting the matches. In a first for Fifa, the fan parks will also be built at international venues around the world and those fans who cannot make it to SA will be able to watch from their home countries. Berlin, London, Mexico City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Sydney were unveiled as locations for the fan parks and millions of fans are expected to watch the matches live at these events.

“We have always wanted the World Cup to touch the lives of as many South Africans as possible,” Jordaan said. “The Fifa Fan Fest will provide an opportunity for millions of our people to watch the matches in a festival environment for free, and will also provide an opportunity for small businesses and our musical talents to benefit from this event.” The ladies who usually sell food at the stadiums finally get a chance and they will be encouraged to give international fans a taste of our local cuisine

PUBLICATION: Business Day
AUTHOR: Mninawa Ntloko
DATED: 24th November 2009