Old SA flag banned at new Cape Town stadium

The old South African flag has been banned from Cape Town’s 2010 soccer stadium, along with items such as tear gas and pointy umbrellas.

The flag is on a list of forbidden items displayed at entrances to the 68 000-seater showpiece, which on Monday hosted a whistle-stop visit from a group of invited local and international media.

It is listed just above “banners or flags with content that can reasonably be considered to be sexist, racist, vulgar, discriminatory, inflammatory or offensive”.

Also banned are firearms, ammunition, knives, and any sharp or pointed metal object that could be reasonably considered a dangerous weapon.

“Even an umbrella with a long extending metal point could be regarded as such,” the notice says.

World Cup local organising committee chief Danny Jordaan said he was unaware of the restriction on the old flag, and did not know if it was in force at other 2010 stadiums in the country.

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said what had happened at upcountry sporting events where people displayed the old flag had “caused some embarrassment”.

“We don’t want that same embarrassment to take place here,” he said.

“We want rather to say to people, the old South African flag is not a recognised national flag any more and we don’t want people unnecessarily to embarrass South Africa and to embarrass Cape Town.”

“Let us rather be patriotic and act as good patriots of the country.

“If you’re a South African, for what reason are you going to bring a flag that is not a national flag any more? What are your motives for it?”

In some quarters the old flag, with its blue, white and orange stripes, is seen as a symbol of the apartheid regime, and considered highly offensive. However, others point out that it predated apartheid by about 20 years.

It was replaced in 1994 with the current multi-coloured flag.

‘South Africa is ready’
Meanwhile, Cape Town’s 2010 stadium is “perfect”, Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke said on Monday.

Valcke said he had been asked whether Cape Town was his favourite stadium.

“I will not answer the question.
You can answer, I think, by yourself,” he said.

But he did say that Cape Town’s rye grass pitch should be treated as the benchmark for all world cup stadiums.

“It’s just an amazing stadium, and all the teams who play in Cape Town, they will play [in] the perfect place,” he said.

The countdown to the cup hits the 100-day mark on Tuesday.

Valcke said that from what he had seen so far on the tour, which ends in Port Elizabeth on Monday afternoon, preparations were on track.

On a scale of one to 10, the country was at an eight now.

“We will be at ten on June 11,” he said.

“In terms of readiness, South Africa is ready to host the world cup in 2010.”

Does Fifa approve of Cape Town’s crackdown on sex workers ahead of the soccer World Cup? Valcke did not seem too sure at a media briefing in the city on Monday.

“What can I answer?” he said in response to a reporter’s question. “Whatever I’m saying, I will say something wrong.”

The city’s metro police, at the urging of mayoral committee member for safety JP Smith, have for several months been regularly rounding up streetwalkers and raiding brothels.

Valcke said on Monday, however, that this was not at Fifa’s request.

He also said that sex work existed “in any city of the world”, including Zurich, where Fifa’s headquarters are.

“It’ well organised, by the way: it’s the Swiss system,” he said.

He said the issue had led to major debate in Germany at the 2006 World Cup, where additional sex workers came into the country because there was such demand.

“I think that all of this is part of the myth of the World Cup, and all the stories around the World Cup [and] any sporting events,” Valcke said.

“It will happen, and there is nothing we can do against it.

“It’s not an issue for Fifa: it’s more I would say for you [South Africans] an issue, if it is an issue.”

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, also at the briefing, said city mayor Plato, sitting next to her, did not want to comment, but she did not mind going where angels feared to tread.

She said sex work was so tied up with human trafficking that one could not separate the two.

“It’s not just an issue of being liberal around people’s individual choice, because most often the women and children involved have no choice,” she said.—Sapa

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