South Africa insists it is on track with the 2010 World Cup

As Germany claims its due pride in hosting a successful World Cup 2006, our memories will fade as our attention is increasingly drawn to South Africa given the onerous task of organizing the first World Cup in the African continent in 2010. A lot of energy will go into dissipating the critics who believe that South Africa is not upto the challenge. In fact, Australia is being mentioned as a strong alternative should South Africa falter.
This is not just about organizing the World Cup, it is a whole continent’s pride at stake. The South Africans know that and they are fully prepared. Daany Jordan , the organizing chief states that FIFA has given the South African football federation $10 million to develop the Bafana Bafana, the South African national team. The SA federation is in negotiations with Carlos Alberto Parreira, Brazil’s ex-coach to take over the reins of the Bafana Bafana.
Thabo Mbeki’s government has pledged $710 million for building and renovating 10 stadiums, and another $1.2 billion for upgrades to airports, roads and railway lines. Cape Town has given the go ahead for a proposed stadium in its city center subject to government financing.
FIFA is supposed to be flush with cash through corporate sponsorships from first tier companies like Coca Cola and Adidas. Second tier companies like McDonald’s have also renewed their sponsorships till 2014, good for the next two World Cups. Not to be left behind, FIFA’s third tier sponsors that include six South African companies are also pledging money under the ‘national supporter’ category. South African company First National Bank (FNB) is commtting $30 million to the World Cup. In all, FIFA has more than $3 billion in hand for the 2010 World Cup and this does not even include TV and media broadcasting revenues from Africa, Asia and South America. The final figure is estimated to be more than $5 billion.
South Africa’s economy is booming with it becoming the destination for a number of multinational companies setting up business. South African companies like SABMiller are buying up breweries in China.
Johannesburg is shedding its apartheid past and has become a vibrant multicultural city. Soweto has become a neighborhood that is populated by middle class blacks with clubs that play jazz and Soweto hip-hop also called Kwaito. The Orlando West neigborhood was home to two giants responsible for ending apartheid, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
We will be following South Africa and Africa very closely in the following months. The 2010 World Cup will not mitigate many of Africa’s teeming problems and it would be very naive to think so. However for pan-Africanists like Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah, their vision of bringing a continent together and forging a unitary identity might be a step closer to being realized.

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