I’VE often been at the forefront of praising South Africa as a country, despite its political and logistical problems.
It’s part of a continent that has a magical charm, exceptionally beautiful scenery and fantastic wines.
Yet over the past few days I experienced at first hand its third-world status which will have to improve dramatically if the 2010 World Cup is to be a milestone in its history.
The actual preliminary draw for the event went off without a hitch, to massive relief, though England having drawn Croatia again may disagree!
Aside of that there were hiccups aplenty. The star solo artist in the build-up to the draw suddenly changed his mind about what to sing, and one of the South African blazers started to make the same speech twice (once he’d found his spectacles!)
That threw the timings for the TV show way out of sync (like three minutes over after only six!) and it never quite recovered.
Worst of all a former Austrian footballer was shot dead while he was playing golf on the eve of the draw that he was in town to attend.
Sadly people get shot every day of the year – but not while they’re playing golf!
Then there was the matter of getting home. To say Durban Airport was in a state of chaos on Tuesday would be an understatement.
Flight delays, postponements, new hotel bookings, stand-by lists, no beds in town, you name it we had it.
Sepp Blatter insists the World Cup is going to be a wow in South Africa but the signs are it’s going to be a close run thing just to get the stadia ready in time.