'This has become a Chinese World Cup'
With just 41 days until the Soccer World Cup, patriotic South Africans are flying their flags high, showing support for the national team Bafana Bafana.
Although most South Africans don’t expect Bafana Bafana to win, this hasn’t stopped the excitement. Proof lies in the South African flags fluttering from moving cars and side mirrors dressed in flag “socks”.
But as South Africa prepares to host the world’s first African World Cup, China is also hard at work.
Flying the flag
“We have received a government mandate to help distribute over 47-million South African flags ahead of the Soccer World Cup as part of the Fly Your Flag for Football Campaign,” said Aden Samuels, director of National Flag & Branding company.
The campaign aims to build public support and excitement leading up to the tournament.
Samuels says the campaign has been a phenomenal success, “but the market is being flooded with Chinese imported South African flags”.
To make matters worse, the imported flags are being printed incorrectly.
“The green is luminous and not dark green; the red is almost pink and the blue looks purple,” said Samuels.
“What frustrates me more is when I go into a government building and see a flag with a label ‘Made in China’,” Samuels told the Mail & Guardian this week.
He said with the amount of Chinese imports making their way into the country “this has become a Chinese World Cup”.
The initiative encourages all South Africans to show their enthusiasm for the World Cup by wearing a football shirt to work, school or college every Friday.
By the end of March, South African customs authorities had seized R46-million worth of fake World Cup merchandise, with much of the goods originating from China and other Asian countries.
About R20-million worth of copycat Bafana Bafana jerseys were confiscated.
The only company contracted to produce Bafana’s official jersey and T-shirts is Adidas, said South African Football Association (Safa) spokesperson Mario Sanyane, adding that one fake jersey had a 2010 logo on the sleeve.
Sanyane recommended buying the Bafana jersey or T-shirt from Total Sports or Sportsman’s Warehouse.
But these don’t come cheap.
Original short-sleeved “Home Jerseys” are sold for R599 at Sportsman’s Warehouse while Home Bafana T-shirts are sold at R349,95. Also on sale are Safa Bafana Junior Home jerseys for R449,95.
According to Vivian Casaletti, managing director of Safa Legal and Management (Slam), “cheaper official Safa products have been made accessible and available to the public at all major outlets around the country”.
These products include polyester T-shirts, scarves and dresses available from Edgar’s, Jet, Pick n Pay and Woolworths, for as little as R89,99.
“At the end of the day these are good quality products that are affordable. If you look at the market the majority of the population doesn’t have disposable income to buy name brand products, but they want to support,” she said.
The vuvuzela—a plastic, metre-long trumpet—are available in various colours, some beaded and some plain.
Sales of the vuvuzela have rapidly gained momentum as the countdown to the tournament continues.
The Vuvuzela Company, the official marketing and distribution agency, said it had received several large orders for more than 600 000 horns in the past six months.
“But at the end of the day there are lots of imports from China which have affected our business because we can’t compete with them on pricing,” said Neil van Schalkwyk, marketing manager of the Vuvuzela Company.
He said consumers were not aware of what the foreign-made horns looked like, and suggested they look out for something produced in the country.
The Vuvuzela Company’s products have the “Proudly South African” trademark clearly marked on them.
Fans can also kit themselves out with the wearable VuVubag—which, asides from your horn, has space for your keys, cellphone, wallet, tickets, umbrella and a beverage bottle.
- Call The Vuvuzela company: +27 21 9065723
Another unique prop of the South African football fan is the makarapa—a refashioned mining hat.
Baloyi added his team’s colours and logo to decorate the otherwise plain hat.
The hats were such a hit that fans offered to buy the makarapa right off his head.
From there, Baloyi established a small workshop in his home and supplied fans with his unique creations.
Baloyi’s Makarapas are now marketed under the name Baloyi Makarapa™, recognising him as the inventor of these unique creations.
“We have received 5 000 orders in the last three to four months,” said Grant Nicholls, Baloyi’s business partner.
The top-of-the-range, hand-cut, hand-painted makarapas are sold for between R180 and R250.
Watch a slideshow of photos of the hats here.
- Call Baloyi Makarapa™: +27 11 022-5920
Zakumi—which resembles a Pokemon—is the official mascot for the Soccer World Cup.
The character—which resembles a leopard—was designed and produced in South Africa. After his introduction there have been several Zakumi figurines—such as a battery operated toy that waves his flag and cheers—that have since hit shelves.
Earlier this month the Congress of South African Trade Unions was up in arms after the United Kingdom newspaper News of the World reported how young Chinese workers in Shanghai earned R2,30 a day to manufacture models of Zakumi.
The amount paid to the workers is a fraction of what the trinkets are sold for.
The paper reported that South African tournament organisers and Fifa gave the firm permission to make 2,3-million of the Zakumi trinkets after visiting the factory four times.
The Diski Dance
No celebration is complete in Africa without song and dance.
The Diski Dance, the official dance of the Soccer World Cup, translates soccer moves into a funky jive—with moves like the juggle, the header, the Table Mountain, the trepa and the bridge, for South Africans to show off their dancing skills. Some have described it as stupid and others as cool, but maybe this is one South African item others won’t be able to reproduce.
- To learn how to do the Diski Dance click here.