Four years ago when South Africa won the right to host the 2010 World Cup, the country was engulfed in euphoria as they would be the first African country to do so. The then head of state, Thabo Mbeki, made it clear that the tournament would not only be for South Africa, but ‘Africa’s World Cup’.
Since Mbeki’s words, several African countries, especially the neighbouring ones like Botswana, braced themselves for the tournament. Other countries are hoping to get something from the spillovers of the tournament and, as such, they are upgrading their infrastructure.
Many new stadiums have sprung up, with hotels and roads refurbished in preparing for the World’s largest soccer showpiece.
But some experts have warned that the tournament might not be African as such because it might not yield expected results. FIFA has reiterated Mbeki’s statement that the World Cup would be indeed African and many countries are going to benefit from that.
FIFA’s media officer, Delia Fischer, was recently in Pretoria and told the Sunday Standard that they are doing all they can to make the tournament an African one. She said they do not want Africans to be left out but want almost all Africans to watch it either by going to the stadiums or from their homes with ease.
Fischer told Sunday Standard that, as part of 2010 empowerment for African countries, they have introduced a development programme called ‘Win in Africa With Africa’. She said the programme is helping many African countries in a variety of ways, adding that the programme will help many African African countries with artificial turfs for their stadiums. She said artificial turfs are cheap to maintain compared to the natural ones. “Artificial turfs are going to be supplied to 25 countries across the African continent and already more than half have benefited from the programme. Many countries that struggled to maintain the natural turfs are not going to benefit a lot. Many games are going to be played and as such a lot of talent is going to be nurtured,” she said.
Fischer also added that FIFA is helping many African countries with technical expertise and equipment in telecommunication. She said this would help countries to watch the games with ease instead of going for expensive telecommunications equipments. Fischer also stressed that FIFA will collaborate with certain African Universities to offer courses in sports organisation, event management and development of sports medicine. Some of such Universities are Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, University of South Africa (South Africa) and Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal.
Fischer also said many companies in Africa are coming on board to make the tournament a success. Companies like BP Castol and FNB are some that have guaranteed a huge chunk of money for the tournament.
On the other hand, South Africa’s World Cup is already being felt in many African countries even as far as east Africa. Tanzanian journalist, Saleh Ally told Sunday Standard that his country has already made strides to benefit from the 2010 World Cup. He said already the country’s largest stadium has been constructed and was only opened recently for the country’s two big teams, Young Africans and Simba.
“I think if it was not for the World Cup, the stadium would not have been constructed at this time, but the World Cup speeded up everything. The stadium is a five star one and can accommodate up to 70 000 people. We are hoping to host one of the big countries before the world cup as part of pre-season training,” Ally said.
Another Tanzanian-based journalist, Edo Kumwembo, told Sunday Standard that infrastructures across the county have improved vastly because of the 2010 World Cup. He said without doubt, the 2010 World Cup is not only for South Africa but for the rest of the African continent.