World Cup 2010
Italy were the last team to hold aloft the much coveted Jules Rimet Trophy, after their less than innovative, but nonetheless industrious World Cup campaign in Germany 2006. The final itself will likely be remembered for one of the most infamous moments in World Cup history. Ranking up there alongside Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ incident in Mexico ‘86, Zinidane Zidane’s head butt into the chest of Italian defender Marco Materazzi will long be remembered. The final itself was concluded in a penalty shoot out, with the Italians prevailing 5-3. In just under a year’s time the excitement will be starting up all over again.
For the first time the tournament heads to the African continent, and it is the first time that a continental rotation has system has been used to select the host nation. For the 2010 and 2014 tournaments the continental system will continue. Only nations from the African continent were allowed to bid for the 2010 tournament, and only nations from South America were accepted for the 2014 tournament (which will be in Brazil after they were the only official bidders). After that, any country not from Africa and South America will be able to enter a bid for the 2018 World Cup. The continental system arose after some controversy arising over Germany winning the honour of becoming hosts for the 2006 tournament, with South Africa then being expected to win it. One member of the council, who had been instructed to vote for South Africa by his federation, abstained from voting. This would have caused a score draw in the votes, leaving FIFA President Sepp Blatter with the ultimate decision. He was believed to have favoured South Africa.
But still, South Africa now have their turn and will look to put on a show to wow the world, after beating off competition from Morocco and Egypt. The tournament will be hosted in 10 Stadia across the nation in 9 host cities. Soccer City Stadium, which, for a long time was the only football stadium in Johannesburg, will host the final on July 11th, as well as the opening game of course, which will be on June 11, 2010.
Stadia in use for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa:
- Green Point Stadium, Cape Town.
- Moses Mabhiba Stadium, Durban.
- Ellis Park, Johannesburg.
- Soccer City, Johannesburg.
- Free State Stadium, Mangaung/Bloemfontein.
- Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth
- Mbombela, Nelspruit
- Peter Mokaba, Polokwane
- Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
- Loftus Versfeld, Tshwane/Pretoria
South Africa only returned to the world stage of soccer 15 years ago, after nearly thirty years of exclusion due to the politics of apartheid which gripped the country. Before that period they had only appeared in 22 full international games. Since their re-emergence, the nation has instilled a sense of pride back into the national game by reaching two world cups. This has helped them secure their position on the world stage, and along with the emergence from the apartheid regime, the country has been embraced across the globe, with the unmistakable face of Nelson Mandella at the fore of many campaigns to get South Africa noticed for the right reason.
The progression of the country is trying to be emulated by Brazilian World Cup winner Carlos Alberto Parreira, who has the task of making the nation football team a force to be reckoned with as hosts. There is always a lot of pressure on the host nation to perform well, because it helps to solidify the popularity of the tournament. The longer the host nation stays in the tournament, the more interest there will be from the locals. That is something which adds that extra special factor to the atmosphere of any tournament, the locals roaring on the host nation as football fever sweeps the nation.
The steps forward the nation has taken in terms of football can be seen across Europe. More and more South African stars are emerging and making names for themselves in the English Premiership (where captain Aaron Mokoena, plays for Blackburn Rovers), Germany, Holland, Belgium and other European nations, where the standard of football is regarded to be a little higher and more competitive than in South Africa itself. This is a good benchmark by which to judge the state of the national side.
While the national side may be relative newcomers to the global game, the first South African team was formed way back in 1879, and played matches against teams created by British military, and the team itself was formed mostly from European immigrants. Just a few years later a league was formed in Natal, with four team, which rapidly grew to ten within one year. It was not many years after that, in 1897 when a national team was gathered for the inaugural tour by a European team. Corinthians from England toured three times in the space of ten years, giving rise to and competition for, the national South African football team.
Professional football hit the nation in 1959 as a national league was formed. None of those originating twelve clubs exist in the modern age, but the inaugural season was a huge success, and in 1971 the National Professional Soccer League took over, which exists today under a different name, that of the Premier Soccer League. Finally putting all the problems of race behind it, 1991 saw the formation of the South African Football Association, which brought together the different organisations in existence across the country. This paved the way for the country to be accepted into FIFA, meaning that once more South Africa could play for national pride upon the world stage.
Now the nation has a chance to stand on the head and shoulders of the world and make history with the first World Cup in Africa. The stadiums are in place and the fixture schedule has been released. With teams still fighting it out for qualification places to make it to South Africa 2010, the excitement is building within the country, with just under a year to go. While the unknown elements of what the tournament will bring, being helpful towards building anticipation, one thing that is almost guaranteed, is the colour and cultural flavour that South Africa as a nation will be able to bring to the festivities of the world cup.