Article by: SouthAfrica.info Reporter
South Africa regularly hosts major international sporting events, and since 1994 has successfully managed some of the biggest – including the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 2003 Cricket World Cup, the Women’s World Cup of Golf in 2005 and 2006 and, in January 2006, the only street race in the inaugural A1 GP World Cup of Motorsport.
But the Football World Cup, the world’s biggest sporting event after the Olympic games – in terms of television audience, bigger than the Olympics – is in a class of its own. For four weeks in 2010, South Africa will be the centre of the world. The 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan was the most extensively covered and viewed event in television history. Germany 2006, and South Africa 2010, promise to draw even bigger audiences. The eyes of billions of television viewers, an estimated three million international visitors and the cream of the world’s sporting media will be focused on the southern tip of Africa.
WE DON’T AIM TO DISSAPOINT!!
In choosing South Africa to bring the World Cup to Africa for the first time, Fifa was not only looking at what the country already offers – world-class transport, telecommunications, tourism and sporting infrastructure, and a people renowned for their hospitality and passion for the beautiful game. They were looking ahead. In 2010, football fans will enjoy the benefits of a host of multi-billion rand infrastructure projects recently announced by the government.
Between now and 2010, South Africa will spend in the region of R5-billion on building and renovating 10 World Cup stadiums, R5.2-billion on upgrades to the country’s airports, and R3.5-billion on improvements to the country’s road and rail network. The country will also be working to tight deadlines to ensure that the Gautrain, a high-speed rail link between Johannesburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg International Airport, is up and running in time.
Five of South Africa’s football stadiums will undergo major renovations for 2010: Soccer City and Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Mafikeng in North West province, and Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein in the Free State. New stadiums will be built at Mbombela in Mpumalanga and in the Nelson Mandela Metro (encompassing Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape.
Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane in Limpopo will be rebuilt, as will Kings Park stadium in Durban and Cape Town’s Green Point stadium. Kings Park and Green Point stadium will become completely new multi-sport facilities, Green Point complete with a retractable dome to protect fans and players from the Cape’s unpredictable winter weather.
BOOST FOR THE ECONOMY:
According to consulting firm Grant Thornton, the World Cup will pump around R21.3-billion into South Africa’s economy, generating an estimated R12.7-billion in direct spending and creating an estimated 159 000 new jobs.
The country’s tourism industry will benefit from the estimated three million visitors expected for the tournament, while construction and engineering companies will look to a slice of the billions to be spent on infrastructure in the lead-up to the event. However, the indirect spin-offs of an improved image abroad could have an even greater impact on the economy.
“There will be a big direct injection for the economy”, Standard Bank economist Goolam Ballim said after Fifa announced the 2010 host. “But the indirect impact may be more meaningful for a sustainable economic lift in subsequent years … it will help change the perceptions that a large number of foreign investors hold of Africa and South Africa.”
In his 2006 State of the Nation address, President Thabo Mbeki said the World Cup would make a huge contribution, not only to South Africa’s socio-economic growth, but to the development of the continent as a whole. “In return for these irreplaceable benefits, we owe it to Fifa and the rest of the soccer world to prepare properly for 2010,” Mbeki said, challenging South Africans to work together to ensure that the country hosts “the best Soccer World Cup ever”.