Phew. Glad the World Cup is over. And after last night (living in the Netherlands) I’ve seen enough grown men cry to last me a lifetime. Time to get back to the real world.
But Soccer World Cup was good for business. Here is an examples of a website article I wrote for a client on the topic of South Africa and Soccer World Cup (written in 2009).
It Is Time! Welcome To South Africa!
When the announcement was made that South Africa would host Soccer World Cup 2010, the news was met with raucous festivity and celebrations on the streets. Since then, the topic of Soccer World Cup dominates most news bulletins, decisions and discussions.
Every person in the country is eagerly looking forward to this momentous event, and as the countdown begins in earnest, so the excitement grows.
But it is not just a win for the country. With Soccer World Cup 2010 coming to South Africa, the hope and aspirations of a whole continent are now centred on the small country at its tip. Hosting the tournament is just as big a win for Africa as it is for South Africa.
The official slogan for South Africa 2010 is “Ke nato. Celebrate Africa’s Humanity”. Ke Nako means “It is time”. In essence the slogan is a call for all of humanity to celebrate its African origins in The Cradle of Humankind.
South Africa is a vibrant, unique and expressive country. Nothing embellishes this more than the vuvuzela debate. The vuvuzela is a brightly coloured, plastic horn-like instrument which is blown like a trumpet. During the recent Confederations Cup, FIFA received many complaints from broadcasters and players on the field because of the noise thousands of these horns produce in a stadium. After lengthy discussions, FIFA conceded that the vuvuzela and the makarapa can be wielded and worn inside stadiums during the 2010 World Cup.
The makarapa is another proudly South African soccer relic. It is a modified mine helmet which a dedicated South African soccer supporter will spend hours individualising and embellishing. It is often worn with other adornments such as giant sunglasses or mine boots, and creates a wonderfully energetic South African atmosphere during soccer matches.
South Africa has more than enough soccer stadiums to successfully host the tournament. Ten venues have been confirmed in nine cities across South Africa. The nine cities in which games will be played is the Mother City of Cape Town, the South coast city of Durban, the City of Gold that is Johannesburg and Mangaung / Bloemfontein, Nelson Mandela Bay / Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Rustenburg and Tshwane / Pretoria.
As with much of the infrastructure development in South Africa, soccer stadiums have received a massive facelift. Most notably is Soccer City in Johannesburg, which will now look like a traditional African cooking and drinking calabash. As the biggest stadium in Africa it will be the proud legacy of Soccer World Cup 2010 long after the event is over. This stadium in Johannesburg will hold the opening match as well as the finals.
Millions of dollars are currently being spent on upgrading and creating transport solutions. Much interest is centred around the revolutionary Gautrain system (from the words Gauteng and train) that connects Pretoria, O.R. Thambo International Airport, Sandton and Johannesburg. Roads, rail- and bus-routes are all being upgraded and integrated to provide a seamless transport system around Johannesburg. The use of an electronic ticketing system will also be implemented to allow commuters to use one ticket for public transport.
Johannesburg is often called Egoli, or the City of Gold, because it developed out of the gold rush in the late 19th century. Today it is a vibrant, modern African city where traditional herbalist shops proudly stand their ground against massive modern steel and glass skyscrapers. The recent inner-city renewal drive has been extremely successful, with the inner city now becoming home to a new generation of slick executives and trendy city dwellers. It is a city alive with theatres, restaurants, hotels and party spots which spill over into the popular tourist hotspots of Rosebank and Sandton on its edges.
South Africans are known for their sunny smiles. From homely bed and breakfast establishments to five star hotels, a friendly South African smile will greet you whenever you check-in. South Africans are warm and helpful and generally very interested in new people and cultures. As the melting pot of more than eleven official cultures and languages they have, after all, had more than enough practice!
To book accommodation over the internet or through travel agencies is easy and hassle-free. South Africa has more than 80 000 graded rooms at present (a lot more than the 55 000 graded rooms required by FIFA). But as with any mayor event, it is advisable to book well in advance to guarantee the most favourable lodgings and rates.
South Africa is a great value-for-money destination. The South African currency is Rand, which at the moment (August 2009) trades at about R 8.00 (eight Rand) to $1 or R 11.00 (eleven rand) to €1. Food and drinks at restaurants are generally affordable, come in large portions and offer good value. Food and drinks from supermarkets offer even better value.
Safety and security will be a major focus in the upcoming Soccer World Cup 2010. South Africa is known for violent crime, so government and stakeholders have taken a no-tolerance approach to crime. Various anti-crime initiatives have been launched, with a massive investment made to boost South Africa’s crime-fighting infrastructure (including crowd-control and anti-terrorism measures). Experts from around the world are training a dedicated police force of 41 000 officers that will be deployed during the World Cup.
Visitors are encouraged to make clear arrangements beforehand, to walk in groups and not to display obvious signs of wealth such as dangling cameras, cell phones and golden jewellery. Knowing where you are going and not being distracted by an open map will guarantee safer travel.
On the topic of maps: using a recent map of South Africa is crucial. Many street, city and place names have been changed to reflect the new democracy. The roads in big cities have also changed drastically due to infrastructure upgrades. As such, older maps are no longer accurate. When name changes are very recent, both the old and new names are usually displayed to lessen confusion.
Soccer World Cup 2010 happens in the South African winter. This means daytime temperatures are mild and temperate, although nighttimes are cold. The northern parts of the country are usually dry during winter, with the more southern Cape region receiving winter rainfall. However, 2009 has been one of the wettest winters in years, with showers covering the country for days on-end. So taking raingear is advisable regardless of which part of the country you will be visiting.
Some parts of South Africa are also classified as malaria-areas. Luckily, malaria is more common in the summer, so when visiting for example the Kruger National Park in winter the risk is greatly reduced. Before travelling, please check if specific inoculations are required.