With 18 previous editions already held in different places all around the world, celebrating football during the last 80 years; this summer, the Fifa World Cup football tournament will finally come to Africa. This 19th edition will take place from 11 june to 11 july 2010 in Nelson Mandela’s South Africa. For the very first time in its history, the african continent will welcome 32 nations qualified for the Fifa World Cup Finals. On July 11th, Italy the defending world champion will either keep their title or will be succeeded by a new and deserving champion. During one month, South Africa will be the centre of the world’s attention as the country hosts this most important event for the very first time in Africa. As it is well known, such an event always comes with numerous challenges and critics. The most disingenuous being the lack of trust in the african leadership by many observers. Thus skeptical or even cynical people have wasted no time questioning the ability of an African country to host an event of that magnitude with success.
In a ceremony held last march in Durban, South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe told guests at a Banquet to begin the countdown that his nation is ready to welcome the 32 competing teams and their supporters. Later that night, the Deputy President went further in his statement by addressing critics. In fact, doubts that sufficient infrastructure would be put in place to make such a huge undertaking possible when the World Cup tournament organisation was handed to South Africa were common. These doubts also were heard even up until this current final countdown: ”We have heard people say we cannot finish stadiums. We have heard people say we cannot provide safety and security. We have heard people say we cannot host the FIFA World Cup.
“Today, [several] days before the opening match, I ask you to recall the words of US President, Barack Obama. Can we stage an outstanding World Cup in Africa? Yes we can, we are waiting and we are ready.”
Yes, despite all the negative publicity, the Rainbow Nation stands on the verge of the greatest sporting event on earth.