Don't Miss

World Cup 2010 begins in South Africa

By on June 11, 2010

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa got under way with a spectacular and vibrant opening ceremony at the 94,000-capacity Soccer City in Johannesburg.

Thousands of expectant fans were inside the stadium for the launch before the hosts face Mexico at 1500 BST.

It is the 19th staging of the World Cup and the first time the showpiece event has taken place in Africa.

Former South Africa president Nelson Mandela was due to attend but withdrew after his great-granddaughter’s death.

Zenani Mandela, 13, died in a car crash when travelling home from the pre-World Cup concert in Johannesburg on Thursday.
She was one of the 91-year-old anti-apartheid icon’s nine great-grandchildren.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation released a statement saying it would be “inappropriate” for Mandela, or ‘Madiba’ as he is affectionately known in South Africa, to be at the opening ceremony.

“We are sure that South Africans and people all over the world will stand in solidarity with Mr Mandela and his family in the aftermath of this tragedy,” added the statement.

“We continue to believe that the World Cup is a momentous and historic occasion for South Africa and the continent and we are certain it will be a huge success.”

The 40-minute ceremony began with a five-plane military flypast over the stadium, which resembles a huge African cooking pot.

A group of drummers and dancers performed a ‘Welcome to Africa’ song that included an introduction to all 10 tournament’s venues.

The next sequence saw a gigantic beetle show off its football skills with the Jabulani – the official football of the finals – before large pieces of cloth were used to show a map of the continent.

Musicians and artists from the other African finalists – Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria – also had their chance to perform in a joint sequence.
Multiple Grammy Award winner R Kelly then sang the ceremony’s showpiece song, ‘Sign of a Victory’ with South Africa’s Soweto Spiritual Singers.

But one of the loudest cheers was reserved for Mandela, whose image appeared on screens to a message of hope from him in song.

Not everyone made it to their seats by the start, with traffic problems delaying some fans.

But Archbishop Desmond Tutu and president Jacob Zuma were in attendance, along with the likes of United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Mexican president Felipe Calderon, Prince Albert of Monaco and United States vice-president Joe Biden.

The global TV audience for the tournament will be made up of viewers in more than 215 countries and will run into hundreds of millions.

The festivities began in earnest on Thursday, with Shakira among the artists at a vast pre-tournament concert in Soweto.

The Colombian pop star performed the official World Cup song Waka Waka and was joined by a cast of international stars, including the Black Eyed Peas and Alicia Keys, along with African stars Amadou & Mariam and Hugh Masekela.

Since it was chosen as the first African host of the World Cup in 2004, South Africa has spent about 40bn rand (£3.55bn) on stadiums, transport infrastructure and upgrading airports.

The tournament, which is made up of 32 nations, could add as much as 0.5% to the country’s GDP in 2010 and will bring in an estimated 370,000 foreign visitors.
There are 64 games in total, with the final taking place at Soccer City on Sunday, 11 July.

There have been concerns about ticketing policy and security in the run-up to the tournament.

Fifa has come under fire for the way tickets have been distributed, with critics claiming its preferred method of making tickets available online excluded many locals who did not have an internet connection.

However, football’s world governing body has made a number of tickets exclusively available to South Africans and announced on Wednesday that 97% of the 3.1m tickets had been sold, allaying fears of empty stadiums.

As for security, there have been concerns about the safety of fans, media and players travelling to South Africa.


About AfricaTimes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.