Initially I was sceptic about the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2010 being hosted in South Africa. So many questions arised a couple of weeks prior to the first kick-off on 11 June in Johannesburg at the Soccer City Stadium. Will the infrastructure be complete before avid soccer fans will be streaming into South Africa? Is there enough accommodation for thousands of visitors? Do tourists realise that due to the high crime rate they can’t merely walk around alone at night like in European cities? How will I drive to work when some streets are blocked off around the soccer stadion in Pretoria? Being not such a soccer fan myself, the whole World Cup idea did not really appeal to me much. But nevertheless, the soccer bug as bitten me in the meantime too and sofar I’ve only been pleasantly surprised!
If you were of the unfortunate who do not have a ticket for one of the matches, you could have simply gone to one of the many Public Viewings in any big South African city. Numerous bars, clubs and even schools had big screens on which the soccer matches were broadcasted live. The atmosphere at the Public Viewings was filled equally with excitement, laughter and, of course, the blowing of vuvuzelas!
Several foreign missions in Pretoria had cultural programmes in support of their countries’ qualifying teams. These programmes did not only entail Public Viewings, but also theatre performances and even concerts of popular music bands. Recently I went to Johannesburg to a Public Viewing of the match between Germany and Australia at the Goethe Institute and to a concert of the German band 2raumwohnung, both events had been hosted by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Pretoria.
Usually traffic between these two big cities is a nightmare at any given time, but since the completion of costly road upgrades, destinations can easily be reached by car. I watched the semi-finals with friends and collegues and have even considered watching the final match in Johannesburg…Since I unfortunately did not win the National Lottery, which would have enabled me to pay around 500 Euro for a ticket, I simply watched the very last match in Pretoria to the deafening sound of vuvuzelas!
Now, after a couple of days after the end of the World Cup, as with many significant events in life, it seems as if it never took place… The streets are quiet, traffic is less congested, here and there a poster referring to the soccer can still be seen, vuvuzelas have been packed away – everyday life has gone back to its normal pace. After all the excitement during the past four weeks, many South Africans are going on a short vacation to recover.
Pleased that disasterous accidents and crimes had been able to be kept to a minimum and no terrorist attacks occurred as predicted, South Africa can say proudly that it had indeed hosted the first Fifa World Soccer Cup on African soil successfully. Apart from the Rugby World Cup which had been hosted in South Africa just after the end of Apartheid in 1995, no other event has brought different South African races closer as this one!
Author: Helen Crafford (Pretoria)