by Prof Barry Dwolatzky
My first memory of the FIFA World Cup was in 1966 when I heard news on the radio about England beating West Germany 4-2 at Wembley. I was 14 years old and living in Johannesburg. Since TV hadn’t yet been introduced in South Africa, I received details of England’s victory from Springbok Radio (or possibly the BBC World Service broadcasting on shortwave). In the days that followed I read news reports about the game in The Rand Daily Mail, and was able to see blurry black-and-white photographs of England’s hat-trick scorer, Geoff Hurst, in action. A week or two after the event I eventually saw some of the action filmed by British Movietone News – in those days the news in pictures came in the form of a weekly news-reel shown in cinemas before the main attraction.
I recently read some of the details of the 1966 World Cup, and was fascinated to see that in the first round of that competition England, the host nation, played in a group of 4 with Mexico, Uruguay and France. Forty four years later at the 2010 World Cup, the first round sees South Africa, the host nation, playing in a group of 4 with – you guessed it! – Mexico, Uruguay and France. England went on to win. Is there an omen here for South Africa’s chances?
When one compares the 1966 tournament with the 2010 Cup taking place in South Africa, the amazing developments that we have witnessed in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) become clear.
Yesterday I went to watch Spain play Honduras at Ellis Park. I bought my tickets a few months ago on the Internet, paying for it online with my Visa credit card. I collected the ticket a few weeks ago by swiping my credit card at a ticket printing machine in Sandton. At the game my ticket – with a range of security features – was validated at a turnstile.
For those millions (or is it billions) of football fans unable to be at the match, it was broadcast live in high-definition to almost every country in the world. People are also able to have it streamed live to their PC, iPad or smart phone.
At the game a giant screen showed lots of fascinating statistics and great visual images. I was able to take 10 megapixel photographs with my pocket camera and email them to my friends from my cellphone.
Would I ever have imagined, as a 14 year old boy, sitting in Johannesburg listening to a distorted radio broadcast from London, that 44 years later I would be experiencing the World Cup – in Johannesburg – via all of this amazing technology. I definitely wouldn’t have expected that I would be rushing to publish this blog posting before settling down to watch South Africa play France on a flat-screen TV via my HD PVR!
In the distance I hear the blast of a vuvuzela. Not all progress is good!