South Africa
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NKARENG MATSHE | Global spectacles come at huge price – but’s its worth it

Major international sporting tournaments bring a whole new experience and being at the Rugby World Cup for last weekend’s epic clash between the Springboks and Ireland in Paris was no different.

The match had been billed as the main thing for the pool stages of this event and, from the moment we landed in the French capital, it was clear something was brewing.

You couldn’t help but notice the many South Africans who made the trip to Paris, with green Boks jerseys visible almost at every turn. But by the eve of the match, the Irish had descended on the city to make their presence felt, packing bars which evidently had been reserved for them.

It was no surprise when they formed the majority of the 78,750 crowd inside a boisterous Stade de France on matchday, cheering every decision that went their way and greeting any pro-Bok verdict with loud boos. From my observation, we must have been outnumbered by 10-1.

The result notwithstanding, with Ireland winning the contest 13-8 thanks in the main to the Boks’ kickers Manie Libbok and Faf de Klerk failing to hold their nerves in extremely tense circumstances, being in Paris for this match once again showed why we should always cherish these events.

This country has hosted three major World Cups before – the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 2003 Cricket World Cup and the 2010 Fifa World Cup – and all had major spin offs on the economy.

The 2010 event will remain the most memorable in that it bequeathed world-class infrastructure for our country, which is beneficial to this day.

But one thing that is common about World Cups is that they are not for those who can’t afford. The 2010 experience taught us as much, when a can of cold-drink cost well over R30. I remember paying over R150 for food and just one drink at Ellis Park.

Well, our stay in Paris was a mere four days, but what was noticeable was that prices were crazy, not least if you – like some of us – do not hesitate to first establish the rand value of what you’re about to purchase. A hotdog at the Stade de France set you back 9 Euros, or roughly R180, while 500ml draught beer was priced at 8 Euros.

On top of that, you still have to purchase match tickets – and the cheapest to see SA v Ireland was €75 (about R1,500), while the most expensive retailed at €300 (R6,000). It makes me think securing Bafana Bafana Bafana v Mexico tickets in 2010 – at about R2,000 each – for family was a steal.

These, of course, are costs borne by those who don’t mind spending a dime on such major events (unlike some of us who, thanks to our work, can get accreditation to these events, or even sponsored trips, like it was in this case).

But is it all worth it? Definitely! There was so much to do in Paris. Our hosts took us on a boat cruise which ended with lunch at the famed Eiffel Tower. On Friday, we went to the Moulin Rouge, a popular play that tops the Paris to-do list, and for which access costs between R3,000 to R6,000.

Despite the Boks' setback, Paris left you feeling how privileged youwere to be from a country which has hosted three global sporting events, though these would have come a huge cost for a nation which has very limited resources, and glaring income disparities.

Unfortunately, not too many South Africans will experience World Cups out of this country and we must make peace with that.

Matshe travelled to Paris as a guest of Boks grooming partners, Dove Men + Care