Behind the Scenes on a FIFA World Cup Match day

Durban, overnight Sunday to Monday

News services around the world flashed these images from a dispute that followed the Germany-Australia match in Durban. And to think that I missed it by that much!

It unfolfed about 20 minutes after I left the stadium with my CBC-TV crew.

It’s inspired me to write about some of the things I saw behind the scenes on Monday, as I made my way back to Cape Town for the Italy-Paraguay game (finished 1-1)

My day actually began in the warm climes of Durban, with a 4:15 am wake-up call. After a two-hour+ flight, we landed back in wintry Cape Town. Heavy winds, sheets of rain, and 10 degree temperatures weren’t the only things to greet us. There was also a band of musicians dressed in bright colors who did their best to liven our spirits, and help us forget the dank weather.

After resting up and getting prepped at the hotel, our CBC crew left the hotel for Green Point stadium and the Italy-Paraguay match. We got stuck for over an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and wondered if we were going to make our spot (which we eventually did).

Security is never far at a FIFA World Cup event.

We have access to a media parking lot, but can only access it by clearing several security points, including the final one where menacing dogs are usually close by.

The security question made it to the headlines Sunday night in Durban. In the hours after the match between Germany and Australia, a bunch of temporary hires (security stewards) decided to protest their wages. In a remarkable turn of fate, and marking what I believe is a first, a group of riot of police were brought in to stamp out a protest by security workers. The morning papers wrote about quite a melée. I can’t imagine anything as bizarre. FIFA announced today that all those lower level security workers in Durban, along with those in Cape Town, are being replaced by police officers. The wards haven’t given up the fight yet.

Still the stewards who were told to go home from the game in Cape Town on Monday night didn’t seemed phased by the turn of events. They were excited to see me with a camera, and asked that I take a picture of them. As you can, they enjoyed the experience.

My experience with the security staff (at all levels of the hierarchy) is that they’ve been extremely friendly and helpful, if perhaps inconsistent in their ability enforce the security measures. This constable is a good example of someone never from a smile – all he’s waiting for is a polite greeting.

It’s impossible to forget about the security threats, though. It’s part of a collective loss of innocence at sporting events that set in after Munich 1972. Even those stopping by the food tent for a dinner break were reminded that this is serious business.

That food tent is part of the Host Broadcasting Services compound. HBS is the group that provides images and network routing for all the broadcasters across the world who have the rights to FIFA. The employees tend to be clustered along nationality lines. At this venue, the French are in evidence, with their taste of fine conversation and a good cigarette.

While I pass through to use their services, it’s not my place of work (nor is it where I get to eat). There are too many tents and trucks too count, and the amount of cabling being used stretches for miles.  Some networks aren’t afraid to show their allegiances, especially on match day (remember this was Italy-Paraguay).

Finally, I take you to entrance area of the stadium, where 64-thousand people make their way through to the game. The vast majority of them are fans of the Italian team – and they are proud to show their colors. On this night, with cold, dank weather, they are prone to huddling to stay warm.


2 responses to “Behind the Scenes on a FIFA World Cup Match day

  1. Dan,
    good line!
    One of the advantages of being on the road and is that the work never stops!

  2. Bob,

    Keep up the great blogs….I mean work for CBC. Em and I haven’t been able to catch one of your crew’s stories but we have really enjoyed the pics and posts. Stay safe.

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