Next year, 2010, sees the football World Cup played out in South Africa. And I'm here to call for all of us to ban it. Don't go there. Don't watch it on TV. Make a stand. Why?
I believe the extraordinary amount of money being spent on the tournament should be put to far better use: helping to eradicate the appalling poverty and crime in that country.
In a recent blog John Cross, a sports reporter who knows South Africa well, warns against falling for the media-fuelled hype surrounding the tournament and urges us to look at the stark reality behind the razz-a-ma-tazz. He says:
'South Africa is a country of great contrast and will undoubtedly host a colourful and exciting World Cup next summer. I've had some wonderful times there. But for those of us who like to think we have a social conscience, it will be hard to see a country besieged by so much poverty mortgaging itself to the hilt to lay on a tournament for such a cash-rich sport. I know the arguments about promoting tourism, creating jobs and raising awareness. South Africa is hoping the World Cup will ensure the country is never the same again. Let's go back to Cape Town in five years and see whether spending all that money on football stadiums has helped build new homes to replace the townships. Yeah, right… I challenge anyone to get off a plane in Cape Town and not be taken aback at the sheer scale of the township opposite the airport. It takes your breath away.'
I love football. I was taken to see Aston Villa in 1958 at the tender age of 10. The club's colours, claret and blue, run through my veins. I'm passionate about Villa and what Pele described as the 'beautiful game'. But the time has come to put and end to the obscene amount of money swilling around football, and indeed all sports, and put that money into things that really matter: housing, education, healthcare…
So I, for one, will not be watching the World Cup next year. And I urge you to do the same.
Oh, and don't get me started on the Olympic Games in London in 2012!