Having already successfully hoster the IRB Rugby World Cup in 1995, the 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, the IAAF Athletics World Cupin 1998, the 1999 All Africa Games and the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003, South Africa was ready to take on a much bigger challenge, the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.
Now we are only 159 days away from the start of the tournament and I believe we are as ready for it as any country anywhere in the world could be at this stage. Over the past couple of years many projects have been undertaken to prepare South Africa to be ready on 11 June 2010 when the World Cup tournament kicks off. Ten stadiums have been prepared; some upgraded and some new ones built. The roads have been upgraded to handle the traffic load that the increase in tourism will bring. The Gautrain Project has been launched and the first stage will be completed in time for transporting visitors from Oliver Tambo International Airport to Sandton in Johannesburg. The airports have been enlarged and modernised to handle air traffic and passengers and even the mini bus taxi fleet has been improved by government initiative.
I hope to keep my blogger friends updated on what happens during these last 159 days before the opening ceremony at Soccer City in Johannesburg. Both the opening ceremony and the final match will be played at this stadium and therefore it is the first of the stadium that I want to introduce to you.
The design of Soccer City was inspired by a calabash, an African pot made from a gourd and used for storage and carrying water. The stadium is located just South West of Johannesburg and close to the soccer crazy township of SOWETO where approximately 40% of the population of Johannesburg lives. This stadium was previously known as the FNB Stadium with a seating capacity of 80,00 but after the multi-million Rand upgrade, it is now known as Soccer City and will seat almost 95,000 spectators.
Although many South Africans, especially in one specific cultural group who seems to go through life completely blind to the bigger picture, are extremely negative about this event, I personally think it is the best thing that has come to South Africa since the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Whether it will bring financial prosperity to this country or whether it spells financial doom, I believe the true profits of this event will be the opportunity to show the world just what South Africa is about: A