What's in a name?

It’s quite sad that after such a huge success, with South Africa’s staging of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, that the squabbles over naming rights had to kick in. Issues such as stadium naming rights should surely have been sorted as a part of a transparent business transaction and not been thrown into murky doubt that simply muddied the waters.

Don’t get me wrong here, if FNB had paid the extended rights, then FNB Stadium it should be! Why then were the South African public subjected to losing sleep over the alternatives that were never there in the first place?
Competitions were even mooted! Obvious options on the table included Calabash, National Stadium, Soccer City and then, with a spear tackle from the blindside, they were all scuppered and the FNB Stadium was reinstated.
I understand the rights of a contract but, in certain instances where there is a legacy of such magnitude, I feel that emotion and national pride should be at the forefront and commercialism should take a back seat.

The only thing going for National Stadium was the fact that it’s a generic, and very non-descript name, though it does portray our national pride and the fact that the venue doesn’t favour any particular sporting activity.
Soccer City seemed a good bet as a direct legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, though it is quite clinical and implies that the stadium is ring fenced for soccer. The rugby fraternity weren’t sold on that name in the slightest!

My choice was always The Calabash as it is so descriptive of this magnificent structure which was designed on a Calabash. It is not exclusionary, is very African and most of all, it would give the stadium a far better chance of achieving International iconic status in that the apt name simply rolls off the tongue. The “Birds Nest” in Beijing is a fine example though, sadly, it seems to be doomed to demolition!

Consider the journalistic licence options! Bash at the Calabash, Clash at the Calabash. The choice verbs and adjectives are endless - smash, stash, hash, flash, crash, trash, brash, ash, lash, mash, gnash, splash and a myriad of others I am sure.
We can now look forward to The ABSA Premiership and The Nedbank Cup games being played at the FNB Stadium which, whilst common, is hardly imaginative. And do not even mention the natural conundrum that is created in a world where iconic venues and events titles are often prostituted for commercialised naming rights!
We now have to listen to confused commentators apologising for using the wrong name, constantly correcting themselves and what a hotch-potch this situation has created. My other post FIFA 2010 World Cup (PF2WC?) concern also centres around legacy. The very next International that was staged at Soccer City (oops - FNB Stadium), barely a month after the final curtain of FIFA 2010, was that of South Africa (formerly Bafana Bafana – another debacle!) against Ghana. Ticket holders were issued tickets in blocks but no seat numbers were allocated?

This is simply a backward step and one that could prove very costly in terms of crowd control and safety in time to come. Interestingly enough, the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events (Act 2 of 2010) is now doing the rounds. I wonder if the stakeholders at National Stadium (oops FNB Stadium), and the likes of SAFA, have understood the document and its contents?
The Act emanates from the findings of the Commission of Enquiry into the 2001 Ellis Park (now Coca – Cola Park) soccer disaster. Lest we forget that tragic evening, this Act needs to be enforced at every instance.On the social side, my gorgeous wife Eileen and I, accompanied by two great friends, took some time out to visit Victoria Falls and popped up to the Royal Livingstone Sun in Zambia for a well-earned break.
From our time of arrival at OR Tambo, our experience was simply stunning. The staff of 1 Time, led by Brian Watts, were amazing in every aspect and set the stage for an incredible experience.

Zambia has been through tough times - of that there is no doubt - but one thing that Zambians can teach us all is humility!
The local people were so friendly and welcoming, not to mention the staff on all levels at this great Sun International venue.
The hotel was teeming with tourists from all continents who were clearly in awe of the venue and its surroundings. From a disability point of view, the staff at the RLS go out of their way to ensure that a person with a disability has all access and I found it to be extremely accommodating.

Being midway through the year, the Zambezi, which is Africa’s fourth largest river, was not quite at her best in terms of flow. It is a perfect time though to visit, as the Victoria Falls are visible and not swamped in the usual cloud of mist.
We were treated to a river cruise on the African Queen and only then does one realise the splendour of this great river, and begin to understand as to why The Falls were pronounced one of the seven natural wonders of the world!
Admittedly, getting on board the African Queen was a bit of a mission but then folks - this is Africa - and it’s not for sissies!

I now know why David Livingstone described the view as that seen by angels. I just wish that they could have flown over the FNB Stadium so that we could have a little consistency in the name!

Columnist Photos