Britain has become a scary place to attend and watch matches these days. I say this after watching the Manchester derby last week.
When the referee blew the final whistle, which was attended by close on 58 000 spectators at the City of Manchester Stadium, United defender Rio Ferdinand oozed blood from a gash on the top of his left eye.
Now, to my eternal shame, I suffer from haemophobia. The sight of Ferdinand clutching his left eye, then realising he was bleeding and, in a feeble attempt, trying to wipe the blood off his face with his jersey, was enough to almost send me into a fainting fit!
Ferdinand has apparently been felled by a coin. Initially I thought he had been smashed with a half brick, such was the flow of blood. Then, probably for sensitive people like yours truly who cannot stand the sight of blood, the person directing the live broadcast of the match decided to switch off the shameful sight.
I say shameful because the previous day more than 92 000 spectators also attended another derby 7 000-km away from Manchester, near the township of Soweto. They gathered to watch a derby that has the potential to bring South Africa to a standstill, yet everything went smoothly without a hitch.
To the majority of us, we know how volatile the Soweto derby is, yet supporters of both teams behaved in the most exemplary fashion imaginable. They mixed together in the stands and tried to out-sing each other.
There was no lovelier sight than watching black-and-white clad Pirates supporters exchanging vuvuzelas with gold-and-black clad Kaizer Chiefs rivals. My son gaped in amazement, even saying that the previously fierce rivalry between these two now resembles a gathering of kindergarten tots.
Yet it was a sight to behold. Watching the rival supporters hugging and dancing with each other in the stands left the security personnel with little else to do in terms of trying to erect barricades to keep them from tearing each other apart.
I thought, if the brick throwing, oooops, I meant the coin throwing incident that resulted in Rio Ferdinand’s cut was an incident that took place in South Africa or anywhere else in another African country, how the British media would have loved the scene.
They never miss an opportunity to paint Africa black, excuse the pun, don’t they? I still recall the unfortunate incident in Cabinda when a bus carrying Togolese players was ambushed by rebels fighting the Angolan government. The overzealous British media asked then Fifa 2010 Bid CEO Danny Jordaan if that incident was not going to affect the tournament in South Africa!
Anybody who studied geography knows that to get to South Africa from Angola you have to first cross into Zambia, then Zimbabwe before entering South Africa. Yet to the British media, I suppose either deliberately or through ignorance more than anything, claim Africa is one vast country without borders when it suits them.
Imagine if the Ferdinand incident had taken place during the Soweto derby or at any other venue across Africa? We would never have heard the last of how dangerous a place Africa is, where “marauding gangs armed with machettes and bricks had almost forced the abandonment of a Premiership match!
I sincerely hope the British stop focusing on our problems here in Africa and try to resolve the violent behaviour of their own supporters and some racist elements within their game who are increasingly tainting the game and assaulting black spectators despite the “Kick Racism out of Football” campaign.