The Final Countdown

In a week’s time, an estimated 150 million people around the world will watch the final draw for the FIFA 2010 World Cup in Cape Town.  It’s less than 200 days to kickoff.

Some 3,000 VIP guests from all over the world will gather at the Cape Town International Convention Centre to add glitter and glamour to the event that determines which teams will be matched against which, and where they will be playing.

Just up the road, Long Street will give locals and TV viewers a taste of what they can expect for Cape Town’s main Fan Park.  Over 15,000 people and at least five TV crews are expected to gather in South Africa’s best-known ‘party street’ to watch the final draw on big screens… and party, from noon to midnight.

Of course, for World Cup, Cape Town’s main fan park will be on the Grand Parade, the site of so many historic events.  It was here, from City Hall’s balcony, that Nelson Mandela first addressed the world after his release from prison.

It was here, in 1997, that many gathered to watch on big screens the IOC’s decision for which country would host the 2004 Olympic Games.  Media hype led many locals to believe that Cape Town would win and the following iconic cartoon by Zapiro captured the mood after the city lost to Athens.  No doubt it will be the site of many joys and sorrows again in 2010.


If the eyes of the world are on Cape Town on December 4, it also marks the date when fans start making their bookings in earnest.  What’s the state of readiness?

The 2010 World Cup Stadia

All the stadia will be ready.  Even Cape Town’s, the last to start, has been handed over to the City by the contractors, ahead of schedule.

The German architectural firm of gmp, which designed the stadia for the three coastal host cities — Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban — did a remarkable job.  (Read the interview with gmp’s Hubert Nienhoff.)

While Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium adds admirable new feature to a city where man-made features are a necessary drawcard, our favourite is Cape Town Stadium.  It demonstrates hard work at designing a massive structure that displays architectural good neighbourliness, respecting both the city’s awe-inspiring natural setting and its urban environment.  It has great integrity and fans will love it.  Even critical Capetonians seem to be changing their minds because it is a stadium of almost sculptural beauty.

Cape Town Stadium during construction
Cape Town Stadium during construction. Photo: Bruce Sutherland

Johannesburg’s whimsical calabash — Soccer City — will certainly get talked about, but is it in the same league as Cape Town or Durban?  Vote for the stadium that will do SA most proud.

One thing that really enthused Capetonians were the weekly striking and unusual construction photographs taken by Bruce Sutherland, the City’s photographer and posted on the City of Cape Town website.  His photographs appear frequently on CapeInfo.

Much is made of the marketing value that comes with hosting the World Cup, as justification for the huge sums spent.  Well… most host cities still have to demonstrate that they understand the meaning of the word “marketing” and it’s the coastal host cities again that seem to lead the way.

Transport arrangements

While the Airports Company has spent billions on upgrading the major airports, one hopes that the government departments who process international arrivals have beefed up their abilities.

As for adequate seats on international airline flights, even the LOC’s Dr Danny Jordaan has expressed concerns.  Airlines are expected to schedule additional flights after the final draw — but could this become the Achilles Heel of the whole tournament?

Public transport at most host cities are also in the process of being upgraded at a cost of billions.  Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya opened recently to commuters’ acclaim and violence from sectors of the existing taxi minibus industry.  But the inner city loop has already been closed because of poorly designed elements and scanty usage.

Anybody who plans on renting a car during that month had better book their vehicle now!  CapeInfo recommends First Car Rental.


Claims that there will be an accommodation shortage are unfounded.  FIFA’s MATCH may not have reached their targets, but there’s a lot of accommodation that was not contracted to MATCH.

Many hopeful establishments have still to sort out their marketing, and how fans will find their rooms.

But on the whole… it will all be okay on the day…

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