The tension is reaching the breaking point as South Africa prepares to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The stadiums are completed and already have hosted pre-cup games. Major upgrades in the hospitality and transport sectors have come on line, the Rainbow Nation is ready, and South Africa will continue to benefit long after the last ball has been kicked and the final match has been played.
This will be the first time that the prestigious international event takes place on African soil. Why this is, is an open question, given the fact that South Africa has successfully hosted both the 1997 World Rugby Cup and the 2003 World Cricket Cup, not to mention the presence of internationally competitive African teams like Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Cameroon, all of whom have a good chance of taking home the FIFA trophy.
While South Africa’s hopes of reaching the finals are not considered the best, the nature of soccer cup competitions, and especially the FIFA World Cup, is that any team can win, and indeed, if the host country does take gold then it will not be the first dark horse to do so. Although many of the matches are scheduled to be played in the urban hubs of Cape Town, Durban and the Soweto / Johannesburg / Pretoria Metropolis, South Africa has ensured a wider spread of benefits by establishing ten stadiums across the country. All meet FIFA standards in terms of safety, team, and crowd comforts, and all compare with any other soccer stadium anywhere else in the world:
The three most high profile stadiums are Johannesburg (Soccer City, 88,000 seats), Johannesburg (Ellis Park Stadium, 61,000 seats), and Tshwane / Pretoria (Loftus Versveld Stadium, 49,000 seats). These three stadiums in South Africa’s central urban Metropolis will host three rounds of sixteen, two quarter finals, and the all-important final game at Soccer City in Soweto. In moments between exciting matches, international soccer fans will have the opportunity to experience vibrant African city life and the game reserves that lie beyond.
The three soccer venues on South Africa’s southern and western coastal strip – Cape Town (Green Point Stadium, 66,000 seats), Durban (Durban Stadium, 69,000 seats), and Nelson Mandela Bay / Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 46,000 seats) – although not benefiting from the final game, will nevertheless host three rounds of sixteen, two quarter finals, and two semi final matches. Beyond these soccer stadiums, tourist destinations like the Cape Winelands, Addo Elephant Park, and the stunning Drakensberg Mountains await, where match celebrations or commiserations may be held.
The remaining four Stadiums – Mangaung / Bloemfontein (Free State Stadium, 45,000 seats), Rustenburg (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 44,000 seats), Nelspruit (Mbombela Stadium, 43,000 seats), and Polokwane (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 45,000 seats) – all have much more to offer than just two rounds of sixteen between them. They are located near conservation areas such as Golden Gate Highlands National Park, the legendary Rustenburg protected areas, the Blyde River Canyon, and surrounding areas of exceptional natural beauty, not to mention the teeming herds of game in Kruger National Park.
South Africa’s FIFA World Cup 2010 is a whole lot more than the world’s greatest Soccer Tournament ever. Please visit, it is happening here, and we welcome you to our land. Come to Cape Town and all other locations of the 2010 World Cup.
Andre Gunther is a professional photographer and travel writer. He is the owner of Open Travel Info, a website dedicated to travel writing.