Beyond 2010: A Public Diplomacy Strategy for South Africa

Beyond 2010: A Public Diplomacy Strategy for South Africa

by Alex Laverty

11 Dec 2010

Brand South Africa working in concert with FIFA and adidas will implement a program which seeks to transfer experience and knowledge gained through South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup in 2010.  Through the partnership established between the South Africa Football Association (SAFA), FIFA, and adidas, the official partner of the FIFA tournaments, during the preparation for the World Cup, will continue to play a part post-2010. This continued partnership will be funded by adidas through their Corporate Social Responsibility program and coordinated through FIFA’s Football for Hope. The program, Beyond 2010, will fulfill FIFA’s promise to use the FIFA World Cup in South Africa as a development tool for the whole of Africa and bring economic benefits of football to the continent.

Brand SA will be charged with recruiting and planning the trips abroad for the organizers, referees, and volunteers that made the FIFA World Cup in South Africa so successful. By utilizing the public face of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for the World Cup in South Africa, Danny Jordaan, Brand SA will work with FIFA and Confederation of African Football (CAF) to organize high-level discussions with other African countries organizing continent wide sporting events . Brand SA will use Jerome Damon, the top South African referee and one of the most recognizable FIFA-level African referees, to lead the workshops that adidas will sponsor in other African countries for their Football Association’s referee pool. Finally, SAFA and the LOC will reach out to the volunteers who were the standouts at the events and matches during the 2010 World Cup, to offer them the opportunity to hold pre-event roundtables with volunteers in other African countries.

Three Part Strategy

The next two African Cup of Nations (ACN) will be the most direct target for Jordaan and other members of the Local Organizing Committee for the South African World Cup. The LOC will hold Organizer to Organizer (O2O) talks with the ACN organizing committees . Jordaan served as the Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and has 27 years of football administration experience starting locally in Port Elizabeth and for the last 13 years as a high level FIFA administrator. His schooling in teaching and experience as a lecturer will give him the ability to best structure the lessons learned from the World Cup to pass on to other African nations staging continental sporting events. The next ACNs will be held by Guinea and Gabon, co-hosts for 2012,  and Libya in 2013. Beyond 2010 will organize these counterpart visits over the next 18 months as all three countries prepare to host the continent. All three countries face similar challenges that South Africa overcame, namely security and infrastructure development. How South Africa met these deadlines and put on a secure World Cup will be of much interest to the LOCs of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Libya.

FIFA level referees are a rare commodity in the world, with only 29 selected to the final list for the World Cup. Of those 29 referees, only 3 were from African nations. Nearly 20% of the teams in the World Cup were from Africa, yet only 10% of the referees were African. This gap between playing standards and refereeing standards is glaring, especially when viewed in the context of the continent. The standard of refereeing on the continent outside of the professional leagues of South Africa and Egypt is comparatively low when compared to other footballing confederations. Training and fitness are the two factors that plague underfunded referee associations worldwide. However, the profession of refereeing is most impacted by a lack of experience. In many developing countries, the level of football is not high enough for a referee to gain the requisite experience to move up to international football. Thus, we see some of the most highly respected referees coming from the most developed countries with the longest footballing histories. Howard Webb, Massimo Bussaca, and Roberto Rossetti, three of FIFA’s most notable international referees, come from England, Switzerland, and Italy respectively.  Recently however, referees from countries without a distinguished soccer community have risen to the fore: Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan, Eddy Maillet from Seychelles, and Michael Hester from New Zealand.  Irmatov is a direct product of Project Future, a program run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) designed to develop the referees and the coaches of the future. Project Future has sought out promising referees and coaches to host them at select conferences in Asia throughout the year. The AFC brings in speakers and hosts workshops that Irmatov attributed to the increase in quality of young Asian referees. In fact the AFC now has referees they believe can pass to the FIFA list, but are too young for the age requirements. Beyond 2010 will take Project Future as a blueprint for how it gathers promising referees in national associations and send Jermone Damon and South Africa’s 10 other FIFA-listed referees to host workshops and small conferences on the profession of football referees. Refs2Refs as part of Beyond 2010 will seek to transfer the experience that Damon and his assistant referees gained while under the brightest microscope a referee can experience, where one decision can bring an entire nation’s media down upon you. The US media’s reaction to Malian referee, Koman Coulibaly’s decision to rule out a perfectly good goal by the United States in their game against Slovenia in Johannesburg is the perfect example of a failure that resonated worldwide.

The third piece of Beyond 2010 will use the pool of volunteers that were part of FIFA events, such as matches, fan parks, and parking lot management. Many of these people gained skills in event management, crowd control, and VIP services. However, despite these skills, their job prospects have not been enhanced due to the deflated economic climate in the world economy and the recent labor strife in South Africa. The need to capitalize on the skills gained from the tournament is pressing from both a social and economic viewpoint. FIFA and adidas will capitalize on this labor supply and will use Brand SA to select twenty volunteers who were rated highly during their time of service to form the third arm of the strategy, Volunteers for African Sport. These selected volunteers will be paid a small stipend, but will have their expenses funded while FIFA uses their abilities to teach other volunteers and event workers at sporting events in Africa. Over the next 13 months they will spend time preparing event programmers and organizers in the following events on the continent:

2011

  • January: 2011 African Under – 17 Championship – Rwanda
  • March: 2011 African Youth Championship – Libya
  • August: FIBA Africa Championships (basketball) – Cote d’Ivoire
      • September: 2011 All-Africa Games – Maputo, Mozambique

2012

  • January: African Cup of Nations – Equatorial Guinea & Gabon

After the preparatory period for each event, they will assume an advisory and evaluative role, which will be the basis of a document that will serve as the blueprint for event hosting on the continent. The challenges of development and lack of infrastructure will be an undercurrent of the report, in that the volunteers will be exposed to various environments and security apparatuses, and will be able to take their own experience from the World Cup and craft a very basic document. Because adidas is the official partner of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) this document and its recommendations can immediately be put into action by the Confederation and individual national Football Associations in the years to come. The lack of proper academic training is not a concern, as CAF would benefit from an easy to read and easy to teach document that event workers all over the continent can use to instruct and to inform on the challenges and best practices for sporting events. The wide range of the events that Volunteers for African Sport will encounter (the five events cover all the regions of Africa save East Africa) will allow a comprehensive document to be created. The addition of the basketball tournament in Abidjan and the athletic event in Maputo will allow them to see not just football organizational standards. This paper will be presented by adidas and SAFA at SOCCEREX in 2012. SOCCEREX is a forum that brings together sport and business in a global forum to be held each year in Brazil until the summer of 2014. SOCCEREX also holds four continental conferences, with the African continent conference scheduled to be in South Africa until 2014. The fact that adidas is an official sponsor of the events will allow the report to be highlighted at the conference to a significant degree. South Africa’s image on the continent will be greatly impacted by the interactions and results Volunteers for Africa Sport produces.

Value of Beyond 2010 for Stakeholders

The benefits of this tripartite association of FIFA, Brand SA, and adidas extend the diplomacy of each to a substantial degree. With FIFA coming under fire for the recent decisions to award the World Cup to Russia and Qatar, in 2018 and 2022 respectively, allegations followed that petro-dollars played a part in the decisions. Thus, FIFA could use a positive PR story to attempt to ease the calls for institutional reform. When Brand SA makes this pitch to FIFA and their Football for Hope organization, the chance to inject positive news stories into the world media will likely lead FIFA to put forward significant funds to make sure Beyond 2010 will be a publicity success.  For FIFA, this would follow in the steps of 1GOAL, an initiative of the football strand of the Class of 2015. Class of 2015 is an organization that strives to meet the UN Millennium Development goals (MDGs) in education. 1GOAL is run by the Global Campaign for Education to mobilize support to hold world leaders to these promises for 2015 MDGs.  FIFA notably promoted 1GOAL during the World Cup and brought together footballers, royalty and politicians, and the UN Secretary General to promote the campaign. FIFA would not need to promote Beyond 2010 in the same way with television adverts, because the primary promotion will be in the representation of FIFA personal and branding at all the events of Beyond 2010 and of course the media stories that cover the events. However, the results of Beyond 2010 in bringing development and football knowledge to the continent would be marketed by FIFA for how awarding World Cups to developing nations is not solely about how many petro-dollars they contribute as part of their bid.

For adidas, Beyond 2010 is the capability to fulfill two of their primary Corporate Social Responsibility goals:

    • Partnering our suppliers as they plan and implement continuous improvements in employment, health and safety, and environmental conditions
    • Supporting the Group’s entities in their efforts to provide a long-term future for sport.

Importantly, it gives adidas additional exposure in the next large consumer market: the African continent. Adidas has seen a significant challenge from Puma in recent years, in terms of sponsorships, apparel agreements, and marketing. Even though adidas is the official supplier of all equipment and apparel for events and staff hosted by FIFA and CAF, the ability to reach a diverse clientele (corporate with the O2O talks, referees and administrators through the Ref2Ref, and grassroots organizers and local officials through Volunteers for African Sport) will lead adidas to also contribute financially to Beyond 2010.

Finally, for Brand South Africa the ability to fulfill their mission statement: “develop and implement a pro-active marketing and communication strategy for South Africa, and to promote South Africa” will be their motivation for Beyond 2010. Brand SA will continue to use the allure of the first African World Cup as a promotional tool. While South Africa has used their time in the world’s spotlight to significantly promote themselves to the developed world, Beyond 2010 will allow Brand SA to translate the good image created by a successful hosting of the World Cup to continental relationships. Beyond 2010 will bolster links through the exchange of ideas and skills to other parts of Africa by showing South Africans as not only as knowledgeable but also partners in football development on the continent.

Evaluation

The success of this program will be measured differently from the three views of the tripartite group. For FIFA, a major goal will be the positive media stories that are created by the program. Their hope will be that this counteracts the negative stories about corruption that have been leading to calls for change in the organization, sparked most recently to a worldwide fervor due to the choice of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts. FIFA highlights their programs that ‘give back’ to football and this program will allow them to show that giving a World Cup to a country for the first time can have widespread developmental impacts in the region. The fact that this program will be conducted in the run up to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, will allow FIFA to make the case that its decision to award hosting rights to countries that are viewed skeptically by the West are in fact fulfilling FIFA’s desire to spread the game and influence development. The perception of the success or failure of the program will be of the greatest concern to FIFA, especially if it can tell the world how great they are for supporting it.

Measuring success for adidas will be more quantitative than FIFA. A signifiant part of adidas’ €1.5 billion in sales this past year came from the FIFA World Cup, where for the first time an African country (South Africa) was one the countries that had over a million kits sold in the run up to the tournament. This success for adidas, which often measures success in sports through the accomplishment and popularity of the teams that they sponsor, will give them a foothold on the continent where they used to be the preeminent brand, but have lost out significantly to Puma’s Play for Life CSR Program that partnered with the UN Environmental Program’s Year of Biodiversity 2010. News reports that PUMA may sign South Africa as it’s next African team means that  Puma would have a massive hold on the teams participating in the next ACN in 2012, as PUMA sponsors 15 of the top 24 African teams (Nike has three, Adidas zero if they lose South Africa, and Airness with three). Since these brands measure success through the visibility of their logos on the football pitch, adidas will have a massive gap to fill in their African markets. The success of Beyond 2010 for adidas will be measured by any mitigation this program has on the loss of adidas’ only national sports team on the continent.

Finally, for Brand SA closer relationships to companies such as FIFA and adidas helps strengthen economic ties but also personal ties. As seen in the past, FIFA often will reward their favorite countries with football tournaments and centres of excellence for football. The showcasing of South African talent (organizational through Jordaan, refereeing ability through Damon, and civic dedication through its volunteers) will further help consolidate South Africa’s brand to encourage tourism and investment. These initiatives are slightly different from the programs that have been attracting investments into South Africa. Instead Beyond 2010 will aid South African brands seeking to do business outside of South Africa on the continent. Exchange programs can greatly enhance South Africa’s image and dispel the notions of racism, xenophobia, and opulence. Showing off the unity of the Rainbow Nation has worked well in developed countries during the 1990s, thus expanding the brand into Africa may have the same image enhancing results. Monitoring the number and success of South African companies investing on the continent will be the qualitative and quantitative measures Brand SA would take to determine if Beyond 2010 was successful in their eyes.

Beyond 2010 - Budget

File: Beyond 2010- Budget

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Why Africa taking on the West over Mugabe is a Bad Idea

Writing in the South African newspaper Business Day, Thami Mazwai, says that Africans must back up their demands for the West to drop their sanctions against Zimbabwe by detailing what action SADC and the African Union will do if sanctions are not dropped. Mazwai compares the West’s refusal to accept the results to Hamas’ win in Palestine and says that African leaders should unify in the same way they have ‘stood their ground’ on the matter of Omar al-Bashir’s arrest warrant from the ICC.

Fortunately, this view isn’t shared by others at Business Day (above), but it does continue a pan-African narrative that dates to the liberation era which has been co-opted into a pro-dictator narrative in recents times. It builds upon the idea that Africans must unite as a whole in order to fulfill their liberation mission of removing the hold that slavery and colonialism has on the economy and society of the continent. This was an effective communicative technique in the 20th century – Africa was the underdog both before and after colonialism. The need to rally as a cohesive and stronger whole, thus forming a larger bloc of actors at the UN, as part of the Non-Aligned Movement. It also worked in defeating Apartheid South Africa.

But the issues that faced newly liberated African states in the middle of the 20th Century were much simpler than today – climate change, free trade, political development, technological innovation, and health crises don’t have moral imperatives likes slavery and colonialism. These issues are not black and white (the ones that are, such as freedom of expression challenge the domestic govt’s power so those are left to the side).

Mazwai doesn’t recognize this fact in his call to back Mugabe. Africa is not a homogenous nation – while their are theoretical linkages in the societies between similar colonial experiences, a black South African is just as likely to have more in common with a someone from Britain than from Senegal.  Thus, calling for a unified bloc is hard enough but to back a tyrannical leader against punititive sanctions surely would only damage the reputation of African organizations and states further. We must not forget that repercussions still exist from Dictators’ Club of the old OAU and its refusal to condemn auhuman rights abuses.

However,  the narrative in calling for unity behind a fellow African leader resonates for some. This only makes issues worse for Africans on the global stage because of the idea that African states will stand behind each other no matter their transgressions. This damages the moral standing and rhetorical arguments made by African leaders on other issues. If other countries view the African bloc as a unified group that will never condemn one another, Africa’s ability to negotiate and stand firm will be damaged. Similarities abound to how white colonists or slave owners stood together to prevent the end of the system that benefited them.

This is not to say Sub-Sahara Africa countries should not work together – they should. But the issues upon which to form a continental bloc are specific – not the default stance taken by African leaders. To do so would not strengthen Africa’s power in the world, it could set it back even further.

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