South Africa vice | Culture of drink infiltrates upper echelon

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Johannesburg | The Sunday Times delves into the drinking culture surrounding clubs in the Premier Soccer League and the national team, Bafana Bafana. “For every emerging star,” writes Luke Alfred, “there is another has-been propping up a shebeen counter in Mamelodi.”

As a cautionary tale, Alfred focuses on Mbulelo “Old John” Mabizela, among five players who missed a national-team briefing the morning after a friendly against Germany in September. “They had visited the town [Hamburg] after the match and didn’t wake up in time.” Says Golden Arrows coach Khabo Zondo,The players drown their sorrows when they lose—and drink heavily to celebrate winning.”

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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