Guest Post: A View From the Ground, After The Games Have Finished

My friend, Adam: gracious host, South African transplant (going on 5 years now), and all around awesome person, has contributed many guest posts over the last year in the build up to the World Cup. You’ll also notice him in the photo album posted earlier.  Now he has offered his thoughts on the perspective on the ground, 5-6 weeks since the games have ended.  Look to Adam to provide some additional perspective on the feeling in the country 6 months, and perhaps even a year from now. Thanks Adam! You’re the B-E-S-T best!

By Adam Boros

Johannesburg, South Africa – Despite the fact that July 11th was only five weeks ago, it seems like months since the World Cup ended. The only obvious reminders of the tournament are the odd posters that have yet to be taken down, the few cars on the road that still fly a national flag or the stragglers that stubbornly continue to rock their Bafana jersey on Fridays. At times this can be depressing – the speed with which the tournament came and left was incredible – but having been here for those 31 days was truly special. It was a month that I will never forget for as long as I live.

I moved to South Africa just a few months after the country won the right to host the World Cup. So my entire time in South Africa has, in some way, been shaped by the tournament. For six years, I watched as preparations were made. I saw the stadiums go from nothing to magnificence. I dealt with the traffic caused by the amazing amount of construction being completed. I heard the nay-sayers (both here and abroad) telling the country it could never be done in Africa. But more than anything, I felt the excitement of the tournament steadily grow within me. It would be an exaggeration to say that I was obsessed with the World Cup, but the amount of time and energy I spent thinking about it could certainly have led to unreal expectations.

In fact, it did. I had totally unrealistic expectations of what the tournament meant and would be. I not only expected to have one of the best months of my life personally, I also believed that the Cup would change South Africa for the better, forever. And the most amazing thing, as I look back, is that all of my expectations were met. The World Cup was everything I ever hoped it would be and more. It was beautiful.

The Morning of the Opening

From a personal side, I have never had so much fun for such an extended period of time. Imagine spending a month of your life where you never have to ask yourself even once: ‘What should I do today’? There was always something happening, whether at and around the stadiums, at bars and restaurants or at the fan parks. And most importantly, everyone I came into contact with was, very simply, happy. This is the best thing about the World Cup. Thousands of people from all over the world converge on a country for a month. They come to watch football, and to sing, and to dance, and to laugh, and to meet new people, and to be happy. There is no way to describe the feelings of love, friendship and positivity that saturated South Africa during the tournament. By some accounts, crime in Johannesburg dropped by 60-70% during the month. I repeat: in one of the most dangerous cities in the world (by some measures), a soccer tournament led to a 60-70% drop in crime. There are many reasons this happened, including an increased police presence, tight security and extremely efficient World Cup courts. But there is no doubt in my mind that much of this drop can be attributed to the simple fact that the World Cup brings out the best in people. It connects people – human to human – in a way that I have never seen.

Before US-Algeria

This was never more clear to me than before the US-Algeria group match in Pretoria. I was somewhat apprehensive about how the dynamics between the Algerian and American fans would play out. Given the United States’ relationship with the Muslim world over the past decade, I had my doubts that the same fun-loving competitive spirit I had seen would persist. But these doubts were almost immediately allayed as my friends and I – in full American regalia – strolled past a group of about 50 Algerian fans on the street. Several of the Algerians ran over to us with their cameras and we ended up taking group photos. In most cases, we were not able to communicate beyond a few basic phrases, but the warmth with which we interacted was undeniable. Inside the stadium, we sat next to a group of 20-something Algerians and spent the entire match talking trash. Thoughts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and ‘on terror’ could not have been further from any of our minds. We were just a bunch of football lovers, proudly representing the places of our birth.

Pride. This was another wonderful component of the World Cup. I am by no means ashamed of being American, but given the actions of our Government and behaviour of our politicians since September 11th, it has been a difficult time to look on my country with pride. During the World Cup, however, I was intensely, proudly American. I painted my face. I wore my custom-designed makarapa as often as possible (one of the better investments I’ve ever made by the way). I sang songs and screamed ‘U-S-A’ as loud as possible. It was a joy. And I am sure that people from other countries felt the same joy. Whatever hang-ups or misgivings or concerns or problems one might have with their country, it didn’t matter. We just wanted to see our boys win. (As a side note: when we scored in injury time to beat Algeria and go through to the second round was one of the most ecstatic moments of my life, as captured pretty much perfectly by this picture.)

After US-Algeria

Add to these experiences and emotions the fact that more than ten of my friends from around the world came to visit, and it was unforgettable. For several days after July 11th, I had trouble concentrating or motivating myself to get to work. I had post-World Cup depression.

The personal impact that the tournament had on me, however, was nothing compared to what it meant for South Africa. Several weeks before the opening match, I read an editorial by a South African guy who had emigrated to England several years ago. I do not remember much of the article, but at the end he explained why he had finally decided to come home for the World Cup after months of debate. He said that he was coming ‘to see the South Africa of my dreams.’ That is exactly what I saw. For those who have spent any significant time here, it is obvious that the country faces countless, incredibly complex problems. Most of these problems, in one way or another, are connected to race, inequality and the legacy of apartheid. South Africa remains deeply divided, with extraordinary amounts of ignorance, fear, mistrust and outright hatred existing across race and class lines.

So as I watched Mary Fitzgerald Square in downtown Johannesburg slowly fill up on June 11th with Blacks, Whites, Indians and Coloureds all wearing South African gear, it was clear something special was happening. And from the moment that Siphiwe Tshabalala scored against Mexico and the entire country exploded, there was no denying that, perhaps for the first time, South Africa was truly united. For the rest of the month, long after Bafana had been eliminated, South Africans of every colour and income-level celebrated together and hosted the world in spectacular fashion.

It was this hosting that I believe will have the longest-lasting, most important impact on South Africa. On the last night before one of my friends left, I asked her how she felt about her time in the country. She told me that before arriving, she did not even want to come. After reading horror stories about crime and violence in the European press, as well as God knows how many afro-pessimist articles, she was not looking forward to the trip. She thought she would be constantly worried about her safety and afraid to do much of anything. What she found could not have been more different, and she cannot wait to come back.

It is people like her that will impact South Africa for years to come. Hundreds of thousands of tourists flocked into the country (by some estimates, more than a million). They pumped more than a billion dollars into the economy and many will return at some point in the future. More importantly, the vast majority of them went home and raved about the people they met and the places they saw.

This, one person at a time, will help to change not only the world’s perception of South Africa, but of the continent as a whole. That will be the greatest legacy of the 2010 World Cup. Africa successfully hosted the largest sporting event in the world (for those of us who saw the support for Ghana first-hand, there is no doubt that this was Africa’s Cup). And along the way, millions – if not billions – of people saw that Africa is not about war or starvation or Big Men or crushing poverty. Those things, of course, do exist and will continue to hold the continent back. But Africa is actually about laughter and kindness and smiles and music and noise and good food and treating people as they should be treated. And it will never be the same after the World Cup.

See you in Brazil in 2014.

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Back in the States: Some observations before the tournament ends

I’ve returned to the U.S. and have joined the ranks of fans, watching from afar.  It’s interesting to have both perspectives; that of a fan completely immersed in the event where every corner reveals a reminder that the World Cup is happening all around you and that of a the casual spectator who has to catch scores on-line and game replays after work hours.  Both are fun, and while I’m a bit sad not to be in South Africa anymore I do think we were there for the best time.  The euphoria in the country around Bafana Bafana’s success was intoxicating and it was an amazing ride to be at all of their group games; we knew that the fire would burn a little less bright once they were knocked out.  But the games and the fun continue, particularly for fans of the remaining countries.

Now that I’ve had a little time to process; here are a few of my early thoughts on the impact of the games.

1. CSR initiatives by major sponsors (or other companies) were, disaapointingly non-existent. Cone Inc., one of the most influential cause-marketing firms around, mentioned this blog on their blog! I was honored of course, but the recognition was due to my tweeting about the lack of CSR or cause-marketing efforts in the country; not exactly what I was hoping for around the World Cup.  I think businesses missed out on a major opportunity to increase exposure and good will for their brand.  The first World Cup, hosted in Africa, was an opportunity for brands to get in front of billions of people, but also show consumers around the globe and in new markets around the African continent, that they cared about people.  FIFA’s Centres for Hope was the only visible example and had participation by a few of the major corporate sponsors, but it appeared to be more charity than strategic.  A missed opportunity in my opinion.

2. The near-term impact has benefited many, particularly the hospitality industry, but for the street-level entrepreneur, the economic boon has not been realized. We saw tons of street vendors, mostly guys, trying to sell their wares at busy intersections and highway off-ramps, all with the hope of making a few extra bucks from the World Cup.   A July 1, ESPN Soccernet article on street vendors hawking replica jerseys, vuvuzela,s country flags, and other tchotchkes highlighted the issue well.  The author writes

Shame (the surname of an interviewed vendor) had high hopes for this World Cup. But the World Cup has no place for him…The difficulty in converting the World Cup into cash threatens to taint the tournament’s legacy for the locals. “After the World Cup, us Africans must gain some benefit from it,” Mufandaedza (another intereviewed vendor) said. “I thought that if I tried to sell something, I can benefit something. As Africans in one’s life, this is the only golden opportunity to make money for us.

The author continues:

But for the vendors, this tournament has yielded little but disillusion. “We are very disappointed. Very, very disappointed,” said vendor Billy Banda, 23, in his deep voice. “We were chased out.”

For full article, click here: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/columns/story/_/id/5307563/ce/us/leander-schaerlaeckens-rough-life-johannesburg-street-vendors?cc=5901&ver=us

3. But the long-term benefits might be very real.  I cite two benefits in particular; one economic and one social.

Firstly, South Africa hosted (and is still hosting) a world-class event; the stadiums were immaculate, the new infrastructure was functioning properly, the airports were impressive.  Security was a little more lax then expected, but everything went off without a hitch.  Hospitality was typically South African, meaning warm, welcoming, and without pretense.  Of course, there were areas for improvement such as the system of shepherding people out of the stadiums to the park-and-ride areas or the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  But putting on a world-class event, in a country that still suffers from a (generally) unfair reputation for being dangerous, will hopefully prove the doubters wrong and change a few opinions.  As South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was quoted in a Buanews article:

“Today, we have earned the reputation of a country that can actually deliver, and that is good for future growth,”

He added that the event had helped to bring an end to the Afro-pessimism that had dominated foreign media for years.

And after talking to many folks who had made this their first trip to South Africa, it was resoundingly clear that it wouldn’t be their last; if anything, that sentiment will be one of the longer-term economic benefits of the World Cup.

To see the full article, click here: http://www.southafrica.info/2010/benefits-020710.htm

Secondly, the social impact was something I definitely didn’t anticipate.  South Africa is still a young democracy, where only 16 years have passed since the end of Apartheid.  And in a country where racial oppression is such a defining part of it’s recent history but post-racialism is what’s been touted since the end of Apartheid, it was sometimes difficult to parse between what was reality and what was idealism over the last decade or so.  But seeing people of every color get behind Bafana Bafana, the South African soccer team, and the national flag, was truly remarkable.  To see every car on the road flying some sort of South African paraphernalia was inspiring.  In a country where sport defined racial lines as much as color (rugby and cricket were for white South Africans; soccer for black South Africans) it was amazing to see people of every color supporting their soccer team.  One poignant moment was at the opening game, South Africa vs. Mexico.  An older white man and a guy who appeared to be in his late 20’s and who appeared to be the older man’s son were sitting in front of us.  The younger guy was enthusiastically explaining some of the rules of the game to his father and describing some of the players.  The older man had a wide-eyed look and a huge smile on his face.  This scene would not have taken place at a soccer game in South Africa even a few years ago.  And this is just one anecdotal example, but it seems that the World Cup truly has helped bring the country a little closer; brought the races, which still have their differences, a common reference point of understanding.  And hopefully, all of the young children, of all races, who came to the games and had a wonderful time, will carry that spirit of post-racialism and optimism into the future.

South African President, Jacob Zuma, summed this up well in a recent interview with FIFA:

It is for the first time in South Africa that we have seen this Rainbow Nation really coming together in a manner we have not witnessed before. For the first time, I have noticed that every South African is now flying our national flag. Everybody is just crazy about this tournament, both black and white. This tournament proved that sport is a tool for nation building.

For the full interview between FIFA and President Zuma, click here: http://www.southafrica.info/2010/zuma-020710.htm

The tournament is still on; four countries remain.  Though, South Africa is not playing for the trophy, they are still the ones with the most to lose or gain from this tournament.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens after the final on July 11, once the question of “what now?” starts getting asked.  Look out for some guest posts from friends in South Africa who will be able to provide some perspective on the question of “what now?”

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Some observations before the games

So it’s the day before the games begin and we’ve been in South Africa for a few days now. Here are a few observations so far:

  1. Not everyone is excited. Case in point: as we were checking into a hostel in Hermanus, a beach town just 90k from Cape Town (and whale watching mecca), the lodge owner Jan was filling out his ledger and said, “is it 2010 already?” Obviously not a football fan. But if you were in Hermanus it would be easy to miss that the world’s biggest sporting event was going to be taking place just a few hours down the road.
  2. But most people are. Seeing fans from all over the world and hearing that vuvezela are definite signs that something special is going to happen.
  3. They call it soccer in South Africa. Weird.
  4. Immediate impact: winter tourism spending. While the long-term impact of the games will need some time before an assessment can be made, one immediate impact, which I hadn’t really thought about, will be the boost to tourism during the country’s off season. Perhaps the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months are when tourists typically travel to South Africa, but right now, it’s winter here and the weather isn’t all that friendly. So with the games, the hostels, B&B’s, and restaurants that are typically empty or slow, are doing quite good business.
  5. Adidas is doing some interesting branding. Adidas, major World Cup Sponsors, have branded many of the kombis (mini bus taxis) in town. Wouldn’t be remarkable in most cases, but these taxis generally transport folks from the city centers to the surrounding townships. Perhaps this is one subtle way Adidas is trying to make some branding in-roads in the much heavier populated (and growing in purchasing power) township communities?
  6. Even in Capetown, things are not that crazy. I asked a taxi driver if things were getting busy for him or if traffic was getting horrendous and he just shrugged and said “no, but maybe it’s the calm before the storm.” I’m assuming it’s the calm, but he’ll surely want the storm (and lots of fares) that will come with it.
  7. This country is still bizarre and I still love it. It’s been seven years since I’ve last been here. Then, I was working and spending a lot of time in the townships surrounding Capetown: Khayalitsha, Langa, etc. These areas were dominated by dirt roads and overcrowded tin-roof shack homes. And seven years later (16 years after the official end of Apartheid), and an estimated $52 billion spent on World Cup preparations, they still are. And just 20 K down the road is Capetown, a jewel of a city with an Aston Martin dealership on the water front and other signs of excess. All in a country where the overwhelming majority are NOT white and still living in poverty. This seems like this country shouldn’t work; these conditions of inequality, perpetrated by Apartheid, shouldn’t still be acceptable; there should be a revolution! But this patience, resilience, and optimism that “things will improve” are perhaps some of the reasons why this country DOES seem to work and why I love this place. It shouldn’t work and in many cases it doesn’t (e.g. crime), but the fact that it hasn’t been reduced to bloodshed over the years and that it’s now playing host to the world are testaments to the spirit of the country and the hopeful path that people are plowing ahead.

In Jozie (Johannesburg) starting tomorrow. More to come soon!

Guest Post: A view from the ground with less than 2 weeks to go!

My dear friend Adam Boros has written some guest posts for this blog over the last year.  He has lived in Johannesburg for the last five years and has had a first row seat to the build up (both physical and emotional) to the World Cup during that time period.  Below, he provides his perspective, with the games now fewer than two weeks away!

By Adam Boros

May 30, 2010

Johannesburg, South Africa – 14 days. For those of us in South Africa who have watched a countdown that started somewhere over 1,000, the fact that the World Cup kicks off two weeks from today is surreal. The long wait is nearing its conclusion and to say that we are excited is a comical understatement. The country is infected with football fever and it is difficult to spend an hour without hearing or seeing or feeling some reminder of the biggest sporting event in the world. It is difficult for me to put into words the emotions that I am feeling in the final stretch because I have rarely been this excited for any kind of event in my life. So I will settle for a few musings…

  • Fridays – like today – are the best day of the week. For the past few months, South Africa has celebrated Football Fridays every week, when people are encouraged to fly the South African flag wherever and however they can and wear a Bafana Bafana jersey. It has been amazing to see how each week, more and more South Africans don the yellow or green Bafana jersey or affix a flag to their car (or strap SA flag covers on their sideview mirrors in an especially stylish display). Perhaps most amazingly, the people that you least expect to be demonstrating their love of soccer and the national team seem to be the most ardent supporters of the day. Soccer in South Africa is undoubtedly a ‘black’ sport, with few whites showing much interest in local teams or games. But on Friday, elderly white women and big, rugby-loving Afrikaners are proudly Bafana Bafana. Not to mention politicians – it is an entertaining (and refreshing) site to see the national president wearing a soccer jersey to important meetings and events.
  • For those of you who have seen Invictus (which I did not really care for), you will understand that sport has often played an important role in race relations here. In that tradition, the World Cup is already having some unexpected benefits for racial reconciliation in the country. Due to the need to keep football pitches pristine, the best rugby team in the country (the Blue Bulls) was forced to shift its home semifinal of an important tournament from Pretoria to Soweto last week Saturday. Moving a sporting event from one stadium to another less than an hour away would hardly be front page news in most places around the world. But this represented the first premier league professional rugby match ever to be played in a black township. The political and social importance of this event is difficult to overstate, and difficult to understand for anyone who has not spent significant time in the country. To see busloads of Afrikaners flooding into Soweto – a place that I can safely say only a tiny minority had ever ventured into – was a beautiful site. As the captain of the Blue Bulls said after the game, it was a perfect display of “how far we have come since 1994.” And without the World Cup, it would not have happened.
  • Several months ago, I wrote how I was surprised at how little World Cup advertising was visible around Johannesburg. This is definitely no longer a problem. The other day, as I was driving from one meeting to another across the endless sprawl that is Joburg, I decided to count any World Cup-related advertising that I came across. I drove for probably about 60 kms in total, and never went more than 1 kilometer without seeing a poster, mural or advertisement that mentioned the World Cup in some way. The tournament, without any doubt, is unavoidable!
  • The argument that South Africa will reap huge economic benefits from the World Cup is certainly debatable (although I read an article this week that a recent study showed the country’s GDP will increase by an impressive 0.5% from the tournament alone). But I have been especially surprised (and even shocked) at how tightly FIFA controls every last component of the tournament, and stifles local economic enrichment in the process. Without any doubt, the most tragic example of this is the barring of local people selling local food at the stadiums during games (tragic for both the locals and the tourists!). But there is no question that the infrastructural improvements that will last long after July 11 are a huge boon to the country. Although I do not think there is a single Joburger who is not incredibly sick of huge traffic jams, reduced speed limits and reroutes and detours, when all is said and done the new road network, public transport systems and other improvements will make the country a better place to work and live.
  • They may have less utility, but the most impressive infrastructure projects are certainly the stadiums. All of the new World Cup stadiums are beautiful and state-of-the-art. Last Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the first ever match to be played at Soccer City. It was a tournament final between two less popular local teams that would normally draw a crowd of a few thousand. On Saturday there were 80,000. If ever there was a stadium to draw a crowd more easily than the participating teams, this is it. It is truly world-class, and the helicopter shots of the ‘Calabash’ with Johannesburg in the background were absolutely beautiful. I went again last night for the first Bafana match to be played there and the atmosphere was unreal. Pure joy, excitement and noise for 90 minutes.

And on June 11th, just 14 days from now, the entire country will be blowing their vuvuzelas, sporting their national jerseys, singing to their hearts content and fighting back tears of joy as Mexico and Bafana kick-off at Soccer City. Of all the official slogans used by FIFA over the past few years, there is only one that truly captures what this tournament means. For too long, Africa is only in the news due to civil war, starvation and poverty. I believe that the 2010 World Cup will be the first time that the entire world will, and must, ‘celebrate Africa’s humanity.’

Woza June 11!!!

FIFA’s Opposing Interests: money for them or for South Africa?

A recent article in the UK based paper, The Independent, highlighted a topic that I’ve written about on this blog: FIFA, their vigilant stance against ambush marketing, and the resultant loss of economic opportunity for small-scale entrepreneurs to benefit from the upcoming World Cup.  Now I understand FIFA’s reasons for defending the well-paid for rights of their major corporate sponsors.  And they didn’t hide the fact that they wouldn’t tolerate ambush marketing.  But their vigor in this area may now be biting themselves in the behind.  I don’t think anyone would argue against their right to prevent Nike or Puma’s presence in the stadiums or fan parks due to Adidas’ role as an official sponsor.  But when you compare that against preventing street vendors from selling key chains or lollipops (lollipops!) with the word ‘2010’ or the image of the South African flag, it raises some eyebrows.   According to the article it states that FIFA “has opened 451 cases of ambush marketing, aiming to protect its official partners who have spent fortunes to win exclusive rights to the brand.”

But Pierre de Vos, a constitutional lawyer, fears that if these actions persists, average South Africans will see only limited benefits from the World Cup.  He continues to state:

Many of the rules are here to protect financial interests of FIFA. It has nothing to do with the successful hosting of the World Cup…If the economic benefits are not as high as people had hoped, people will become more disillusioned with FIFA

And disillusionment with FIFA should be the least of the organizing committee’s worries; FIFA officials get to return to Switzerland and enjoy the benefit of only hosting this event every four years.  But the organizing committee members will be the ones expected to answer questions if pre-games promises are not fulfilled.

This article in the Independent is discouraging but not surprising.  I know it’s much easier to report on the negative than to report on the good that’s happening (hoping that there actually is a lot more positive to be reported on!).  So I’m hoping that articles highlighting the negative impacts don’t outweigh those showcasing the positive things happening in the country around the games.

But this article is also discouraging in light of another recent article (May 3) in the Financial Times that reported that FIFA would be generating a net gain of $1 billion in income, although they said it was wrong to talk about the surplus as a profit.

Jerome Valcke, FIFA executive, described the surplus as “a reserve to insulate the organisation from any unforeseen financial problems.”  He continued, saying:

We are not rich, we are making quite good money and thanks to the World Cup, because . . . that’s the only income we have…We should not talk about profit.

When you balance this report of them not being “rich” on one hand and then see them raising lawsuits against those small-scale entrepreneurs who are simply trying to make money for their families, one can’t help but see a major disconnect between FIFA and those of the country hosting the event.  FIFA is working hard to protect the brand of their generous sponsors, but they are at serious risk of damaging their own.

Up to this point, FIFA has talked a good game about leveraging the games in order to uplift the country, it’s people, and the region.  Hopefully they don’t squash any built-up good will by continuing to play the Goliath, to the entrepreneurs’, David.

To read the full May 3, Financial Times article click here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2e62f2be-56c2-11df-aa89-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss

To read the full May 11, The Independent article click here: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/internationals/fifa-marketing-rules-spark-frustration-in-safrica-1971006.html

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BBC Article: Will the World Cup only make the rich, richer?

The question posed in the title of the post, surely is not the intended result.  That is, if you believe everything FIFA and the World Cup organizing committees have said over the the last few years.  Economic development! Employment! Increased opportunity! Social mobility!  Those were the optimistic rallying cries you heard.  Hey, I was one of them, and will continue to echo those thoughts until proven otherwise.  But the slightly pessimistic side of me isn’t surprised to read the contents of this BBC article.  Due to FIFA’s policing of their brand and the brand of their corporate sponsors, the livelihood of street and stadium vendors have come to a stand still at best and at the other end of the spectrum, has resulted in jail time for some.

The tragic irony is not lost on these vendors.  Many were led to believe that with the World Cup would come economic opportunity.  Surely many South Africans have been employed in stadium and transportation infrastructure projects.  However, for these street and stadium vendors struggling to support their families, the results have not been so rosy.  One vendor quoted in the article stated

“I want nothing to do with the World Cup; it has caused me too much pain already,” he says.

“I’ll be happy when this whole thing is over, maybe the police will leave us alone so we can earn a living for our children”.

It will be very interesting to see how FIFA responds to this sort of criticism.  And it will be even more interesting to see if a company steps in to address this issue and advocates on behalf of the vendors.

Thanks to @marcopuccia for sending me the link:

To read the full article, click here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8663148.stm

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A little activism: Take action by April 15th to prevent trafficking

A dear friend of is part of the Augustinian order and he forwarded the following letter from the Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc.  I’m not advocating for any particular religious orders here but as readers of this blog, I think we can all agree that human trafficking around the World Cup is not a good thing.  If interested in taking action, please read below and see how you can participate!

Dear CBIS Participant:

In just two months, close to one million visitors will travel to South Africa for the World Cup. This influx of people may also have the unintended consequence of creating opportunities for human trafficking. While not responsible for this tragic crime, the travel and lodging industry is well-positioned to help prevent human trafficking by taking steps to stop the use of hotels for these purposes.

CBIS will be sending a letter next week to major hotel chains in South Africa encouraging them to combat human trafficking and child sex tourism as the country readies for the World Cup.

To make our letter more impactful, I’m hoping to enlist your help. To sign-on to this letter, please email your name, title and organization to sriaction@cbisonline.com by April 15.

The letter, to be sent to Best Western, Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood and other hotels, shares our concerns about human trafficking and encourages them to create ethical policies, train staff to help identify human trafficking, partner with social service agencies, and join an industry-wide code of conduct that guides anti-commercial sex tourism policy development.

But time is short. Visit http://www.cbisonline.com/page.asp?id=1032 to view our letter to see if your organization would like to sign-on: We hope you can join with CBIS, members of religious communities, socially responsible shareholders, and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility in this action to hotels.

For more information, please visit CBIS’ SRI Action Center, www.cbisonline.com/sriaction. We will post the final version of the letter and also share any responses we receive from the hotels.

Together we can work to protect children and put our faith into practice.

Best regards,

Julie Tanner
Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing

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