Despite the noise about South Africa being a crime-prone nation and fears that the Stadia and facilities would not be ready before the much expected 2010 World Cup, last Friday draw in Cape Town proved critics wrong.
For once, the world is now convinced that the rainbow nation is fit to host the first world cup in Africa and be an African pride. The A-list stars line up in Cape Town was a testament that world football body – FIFA got it right in SA.
South African Oscar Winner, Charlize Theron, with top sports stars which include, England star, David Beckham, Ethiopian distance runner, Haile Gebreselassie, UEFA president, Michel Platini and former Cameroonian striker, Roger Miller, graced the occasion.
The city of Cape Town was estimated to have spent nearly US$2million in preparation of the group draws. Security was beefed up and the man in charge of the 2010 world cup, Danny Jordan had promised that South Africa would be a safe place for fans before, during and after next year actions.
Fans around the world were glued to live television as their individual countries were tied in the group stages. In England, football lovers were packed in pubs and entertainment zones to watch which team they would play. Around 50,000 English fans are expected to swamp the cities of South Africa in June and an overall 450,000 fans around the world.
Tourists are beginning to book hotels and tickets for the upcoming events which expert say will shoot South Africa’s economy to the highest point. According to Southafrica2010.info, reports suggest that the world tournament will inject 21.3 billion Rand into the economy and will eventually generate an estimated 12.7 billion Rand and 159,000 new jobs prospects. Airports, roads, transport links are currently undergoing renovations and near completion.
“There will be a big direct injection for the economy […] the injection impact may be more meaningful for a sustainable economic lift in subsequent years and will help change the perception that a large number of foreign investors hold of Africa and South Africa,” Southafrica2010.info quoted Goolam Balim, an economist with the South African Standard Bank.
Already, flight tickets and hotels prices have skyrocketed and doubled since the beginning of this month. Ordinarily, economy class tickets to Johannesburg from The United Kingdom cost between £450-£500 but flight companies are already cashing-in on the world cup and increasing tickets to between £1000 and £2000. In fact, seats are fully booked at some of the airline companies before and during the June tournament.
Hotels are also nearly fully booked and there was a report of a celebrity renting his cliff-top apartment to visitors, just outside Cape Town for £800,000 for only four weeks.
“The world cup has surely brought excitement to Africa and people are now having huge interest in the continent,” said African football pundit, Ernest Gujagbo.
Indeed that interest was reaffirmed by the dignitaries that graced the cup draw last Friday. Archbishop Desmond Tutu – anti-apartheid campaigner, Franz Beckenbauer – former Germany captain, De Klerk – Former South African President, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira – Former Portugal striker, Makhaya Ntini – first black South African cricket international and host of others were present at the draw.