回到非洲(三) / Back to Africa (Part Three)

回到非洲(三)

许多怀疑论者严重质疑非洲能否成功主办本届世界杯足球赛,就如同当年很多人怀疑纳尔逊•曼德拉是否能够获释出狱,或者南非能不能避开漫长血腥的内战而终结种族隔离一样。

也许道理就是:基于各种纷繁的历史原因,我们应该像习惯中国带来的惊讶那样,对非洲的出人意料也有所准备。

我开始写这篇博客的时候,距2010年世界杯足球赛决赛开赛时间还有12个小时,全球200多个国家都对这场比赛进行了实况转播。2010年世界杯足球赛的伟大之处不在于64场比赛破纪录地创造了32亿美元收入,不在于比赛100%的准时开赛率,不在于吸引了有史以来最多的体育赛事电视观众,也不在于缔造出了最高的电视收视率。

虽然这些成就都值得大书特书,但真正令人叹为观止的还是西班牙对荷兰的那场决赛在全世界范围内吸引的观众之多——超过了人类历史上的任何一次活动。这简直令人难以置信。

比较来看,最近的“超级碗”——美国收视之王——在美国吸引了1.06亿电视观众。而2010年世界杯的一场比赛——收视人群远远小于决赛——其全球观众人数却达到了7.15亿。

在开普敦漂亮的新体育场,我欣喜万分地观看了此生第一场职业足球赛,由西班牙对阵葡萄牙。如果用文字来形容,场面绝对壮观。唯一遗憾的是我没有戴耳塞,没法防备身穿五颜六色服装、披挂各种标识的各国球迷吹奏呜呜祖拉时发出的震耳欲聋的轰鸣。

Back to Africa (Part Three)

There were plenty of skeptics who seriously questioned Africa’s ability to successfully host the FIFA World Cup finals, just as there were many who doubted that Nelson Mandela would ever be released from prison, or that Apartheid would come to an end without a prolonged and bloody civil war in South Africa.

Perhaps the moral is that for a whole range of very different historical reasons, we should be prepared to be surprised by Africa, just as we have learned to be surprised by China.

When I started writing this post, it was 12 hours before the final match of the 2010 World Cup finals, which was broadcast live to some 200 countries around the globe. The remarkable thing is not that the 64 World Cup finals matches of 2010 generated a record-shattering US$3.2 billion in revenues; or that 100% of the matches were started on time; or that they reached the highest TV audiences in the history not only of sport but of television.

Those too are very noteworthy achievements, but the real knock-your-socks off fact is that the final match between Spain and the Netherlands was watched by more people around the globe than any event in human history, bar none. That is simply staggering.

To put it into perspective, the latest Super Bowl — far and away the king of audience size in the U.S. — attracted TV audience figures in the U.S. of about 106 million people. A recent 2010 World Cup match — smaller by far than the final — had an audience of 715 million worldwide.

While in Cape Town, I had the great pleasure of attending my first professional football (in the U.S. we still call it soccer) match, between Spain and Portugal, held in Cape Town’s beautiful new stadium. It was spectacular in every sense of the word. My only regret was that I had not brought ear plugs to protect against the incredible chorus of vuvuzelas which the colorfully costumed and beflagged fans from every corner of the globe were continuously honking on.

 

盛装打扮的葡萄牙球迷 / Portuguese fans fully decked out

有一个颇具国际反讽意味的转折,我听说南非引以为傲的号角——呜呜祖拉现在大部分都是由中国南方制造的,这更证明了世界正不断地缩小。

除去体育场内的比赛和演出,66,000名观众能够有序、平静、高效地进出赛场和周边地区也给我留下了深刻的印象。

唯一可以的挑剔的是,当我趁中场休息飞奔向洗手间的时候,遇到了一位美国老兄。他在我前面踩着舞步不紧不慢地跳下(而不是走下)体育场陡峭的楼梯,两只胳膊高举到半空,右手掐着两大杯啤酒,左手还用黑莓手机发着短信。

跳舞、发信息,或者端着两杯啤酒倒都没有什么错,但很多顶级专家都反对同时干这三件事,特别是在中场休息和很多人一起走下体育场台阶时同时干这三件事,而且你后面的人可能还有要紧的事儿要干。

幸亏当时我手里没有呜呜祖拉,否则我会把它当成战略性车载喇叭用。那样的话,我的美国老乡可能会同时再多做一件事:吓得跳起来。

2010年南非世界杯足球赛的巨大成功,不仅是南非,也是非洲大陆在全世界崭露头角的一次盛会。

In a wonderful twist of global irony, I am told that the vuvuzelas, a horn of proud South African tradition, are now mostly made in Southern China. Further proof of the ever-shrinking globe.

Apart from the match and the festivities in the stadium, I was impressed by the generally polite, peaceful and efficient movement of the capacity crowd of 66,000 people in and out of the facility and around the adjacent neighborhoods.

My only quibble, as I attempted a half-time dash to the men’s room, was with a fellow American who was dancing (as opposed to walking ) very slowly down the steep stadium stairs in front of me, with both arms aloft, his right paw clutching two large plastic cups filled with beer, and his left paw texting on his Blackberry.

There is nothing wrong with dancing, texting, or carrying two beers, although many of the leading experts recommend against doing all three of these activities at the same time, especially when descending the steps of a very crowded stadium at half time, when people walking behind you may have urgent matters on their mind.

It is fortunate that I did not have a vuvuzela in hand at that very moment. If I had it would have been very tempting to use it in the manner of a strategically placed car horn, in which case my American friend might have been engaged in an additional activity: leaping.

The super success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa was truly a historic coming out party of global proportions not only for South Africa but the whole African continent.


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